Genetic testing co. spurs privacy, ethical questions

A new company that offers genetic testing presents a privacy issue, according to patients’ rights advocates.

Navigenics officially launched its company after closing on a $25 million investment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital and Mohr Davidow Ventures. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based biotechnology firm will conduct whole genome scanning and analysis to help customers determine genetic material that could lead to diseases later in life.

The hope is that customers will use the information to develop preventive techniques and improve their healthcare.

However, individual patient information is still vulnerable in electronic health systems, and it would be difficult for customers to determine whether any company is selling their data to third parties, said Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation.

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