A four hundred dollar saliva smear test can predict Alzheimer risk.

A Pennsylvania company is marketing a genetic test to tell whether you are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s. Fifteen years ago the critical gene APOE was linked to Alzheimer’s.

You give a saliva smear and $399 and learn if you have a risk of Alzheimer’s that is 3-15 times higher than normal.

The science behind the test is solid. It differs form many other gene tests for common adult diseases.

How would you react to learn you have the APOE genotype and how will you communicate this explosive information.

The mental health consequences are enormous when you tell people you MAY get a disease that is neither preventable nor treatable and is fatal. Most researchers feel the benefits of knowing your genotype are trivial and the emotional risks are huge.

This test might help the 2% of people with the worst APOE combination: two copies of the allele that gives one a 15 times increased risk for the disease.

But about 25% of us carry one copy of APOE4 and your risk is roughly three ties higher than normal. It isn’t helpful and there is nothing you can do about it medically.
Until recently the test has been done by Athena Diagnostics in Worcester, Mass. And the only ones that qualified for the test were those with dementia. Smart Genetics recently has licensed rights to the test from Athena.
Some people might freak out or commit suicide if they tested positive. It might also raise the risk of heart disease. It might be very sensitive information.

Has the test reached its time? Do you have $400 lying around to find out that your chance of Alzheimer’s is higher than the general public? And how will this change your life in a positive way?

Two days ago, Oct 6, Smart Genetics has gone out of business. The two-year-old company sold HIV Mirror and Alzheimer’s Mirror, DNA tests for HIV progression to AIDS and Alzheimer’s risk respectively.

Ironically, the CEO and cofounder Julian Awad found that his own personal lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s disease to be about 10% compared to the general population rate of 15%.
Looks like you will have to keep your $400.

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