About Pathway Genomics

By analyzing different genetic markers, Pathway Genomics claims to help provide insight into factors that might lead to less-than-optimal health. Then, in conjunction with your physician, we’re told you’ll be able to create personalized treatment options that improve or maintain wellness, including genetically-matched diet plans.

All Pathway Genomics tests are analyzed in their CLIA and CAP (College of American Pathologist’s) accredited clinical laboratory based in San Diego, CA, where the company claims to deliver “the latest science in genetic testing.”

But when it comes down to it, will the value provided by a Pathway genetic test outweigh the cost? Are there any important factors you should keep in mind? We’ll cover all of this—and more—here.

Let’s kick things off by taking a closer look at each of Pathway Genomics’ testing services.

Which Tests Are Offered by Pathway Genomics?

Overall, Pathway Genomics offers customers 16 different testing services:

PathwayFit

PathwayFit is a saliva-based test that analyzes over 75 genetic markers to help provide insight into how your body processes various macronutrients like sugars, fats, vitamins, and more. Based on your genetics, you’ll also learn how your body responds to exercise, and about any health conditions you might be predisposed to.

After taking the PathwayFit test, the company tells us you’ll have access to “an individualized roadmap of strategies and recommendations,” including a matching diet type (low fat, low carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or balanced), one meal plan type (Standard, Gluten-Free, Pregnancy & Lactation, Dairy-Free, and Vegetarian), as well as a free consultation with one of Pathway’s Registered Dieticians.

In other words, the PathwayFit test promises to “guide you towards optimal health” by providing personalized information about:

  • Diet
  • Eating Behavior
  • Food Reactions
  • Nutritional Needs
  • Exercise
  • Body & Weight
  • Metabolic Health Factors

Here is a PathwayFit sample report.

SkinFit

Pathway tells us their saliva-based SkinFit test is ideal for individuals “who are interested in learning how their genetics may affect their skin health, and for those who want to enhance their skin appearance and minimize the risks of developing various skin conditions.”

To do this, SkinFit analyzes 70+ genetic markers associated with skin health, including genetic predispositions for dry skin, wrinkle development, skin texture and elasticity, protection against oxidation, and more. Overall, these dispositions fall into six different categories:

  • Photoaging
  • Moisture & Hydration Factor
  • Inflammation & Allergy Risk
  • Oxidation Protection
  • Skin Glycation
  • Nutritional Needs

According to the company, you’ll have your SkinFit results within 2-3 weeks. From there, you can work with your physician to help guide your “use of skin care products and nutritional support as needed.” Here is a sample report.

Cardiac Healthy Weight DNA Insight

If you want to help “manage and optimize” your weight, Pathway claims their Cardiac Healthy Weight DNA Insight test may be able to help by allowing to you better understand your unique genetic profile. When combined with a proprietary algorithm, the test can allow physicians to provide patients with a genetically-matched diet that can help them “achieve or maintain a healthy weight and improve heart health.”

According to the company, their Cardiac Healthy Weight DNA Insight test can also help you make more informed decisions about exercise and potential health risks across four different categories:

  • Health – Tests for type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Exercise Response – BMI, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, loss of body fat
  • Weight & Diet – Matching diet type, Genetic risk for decreased adiponectin and decreased omega-6 and omega-3
  • Nutrition – Genetic risks associated with vitamin A and B12

Here is a sample report.

Healthy Woman DNA Insight

If you’re a women who’s looking to optimize your weight and address your overall wellness, Pathway claims their comprehensive Healthy Woman DNA Insight test can “provide physicians with valuable information about a woman’s dietary and nutritional needs, optimal exercise regiments, potential response to a number of medications, as well as the risk of developing a number of common health conditions.”

Healthy Woman DNA Insight tests for the following:

  • Eating Behaviors – Eating disinhibition, food desire, satiety, snacking, sweet tooth
  • Health – Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, venous thrombosis
  • Medication – Aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss, Clopidogrel metabolism (Plavix), Estrogen supplementation, and more
  • Exercise Response – Endurance training, HDL cholesterol response to exercise, insulin sensitivity response to exercise
  • Weight & Diet – Matching diet type, Genetic risk for decreased adiponectin and decreased omega-6 and omega-3, metabolism, and more
  • Metabolic Health Factors – Genetic risk for decreased HDL cholesterol, genetic risk for elevated LDL cholesterol, genetic risk for elevated triglycerides
  • Nutrition – Genetic risk for decreased vitamin A, B2, B6, B12, and more

Click here for a sample report.

Healthy Weight DNA Insight

Similar to Healthy Woman DNA Insight, the Healthy Weight DNA Insight test also focuses on helping customers learn more about their genetics, in order to support overall weight and wellness and to understand potential risks for common health conditions.

After the test is complete, a proprietary algorithm will assign you a genetically-matched diet in order to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

According to the company, the Healthy Weight DNA Insight test looks at the following:

  • Eating Behaviors – Food disinhibition, food desire, satiety, snacking, sweet tooth
  • Health – Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, venous thrombosis
  • Medication – Clopidogrel metabolism (Plavix), Simvastatin-induced myopathy, Warfarin
  • Exercise Response – Endurance training, HDL cholesterol response to exercise, insulin sensitivity response to exercise
  • Weight & Diet – Matching diet type, obesity, Response to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, weight loss and regain, and more
  • Metabolic Factors – Genetic risk for decreased HDL cholesterol, Genetic risk for elevated LDL cholesterol, Genetic risk for elevated triglycerides
  • Nutrition – Genetic risk for decreased vitamin C, D, E, folate, and more

Here is a sample report.

Cardiac DNA Insight

Similar to their other tests, Pathway’s Cardiac DNA Insight test is intended to “identify specific genetic variants associated with an increased risk of developing certain heart-related health conditions.” You’ll also learn about potential responses to eight commonly prescribed medications for related conditions.

Here is what Cardiac DNA Insight tests for:

  • Heart Disease/Atrial Fibrillation – Beta-blockers, LVEF response, Caffeine metabolism, Coronary artery disease, Myocardial infarction, and more
  • Peripheral Artery Disease – Clopidogrel metabolism (Plavix), Estrogen supplementation (risk of venous thrombosis), Warfarin, and more
  • Hypertension – Beta-blockers, Metoprolol metabolism, Perindopril (ACE inhibitor-therapeutic benefit), and more
  • Cardiovascular Health – ApoE and cardiovascular disease, Genetic risk for decreased folate, Genetic risk for decreased HDL cholesterol, and more

2-3 weeks after your saliva or blood sample is taken, you should have your results in hand (here is a sample report).

Mental Health DNA Insight

If you’re about to start a psychiatric medication, or if you’re currently taking one of these medications but aren’t experiencing results, Pathway claims their Mental Health DNA Insight test may be able to help your physician guide your prescriptions, dosages, side effects, and more.

Overall, we’re told 50 different medications are screened in the test, including:

  • Antidepressants – Citalopram, Escitalopram, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine, and more
  • ADHD – Atomoxetine
  • Benzodiazepines – Clobazam, Diazepam, Alprazolam
  • Mood Stabilizers – Carbamazepine, Divalproex, Lamotrigine, and more
  • Antipsychotics – Haloperidol, Perphenazine, Pimozide, and more
  • Others – Dextromethorphan and Quinidine, Galantamine, Modafinil, and more

Pain Medication DNA Insight

If you’re currently taking, or are about to take, pain medication, the blood-based Pain Medication DNA Insight test promises to help you better understand your response, while also helping to identify optimal treatments.

After providing a saliva or blood sample, the test will identify genetic variants that can affect how you respond to 13 commonly prescribed pain medications. These include:

  • Opioids – Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Methadone, and more
  • NSAIDS – Celecoxib, Diclofenac, Flurbiprofen, and more
  • Other – Carisoprodol and Methotrexate toxicity

Here is a sample report.

CancerIntercept Detect

When a tumor is present in the body, it leaves behind pieces of DNA in the blood. It’s this ctDNA (circulating tumor DNA) that the CancerIntercept Detect test is intended to detect (and the specific genomic markers it contains) after a 2-3 week processing period.

Here is a sample report of what you might expect.

CancerIntercept Monitor

Whereas CancerIntercept Detect is intended to detect cancer prior to being diagnosed, the Monitor test is intended work as a non-invasive biopsy method after diagnosis. Further, we’re told that the genomic information it provides can also “be used to both personalize and monitor a patient’s oncology care.”

Pathway claims their CancerIntercept Monitor test can detect specific genome markers “at levels as low as 2 copies of mutant DNA per patient plasma sample.” From there, your physician can help develop a personalized treatment plan, monitor tumor development, and even provide information about relevant clinical trials.

A sample report can be found here.

BreastTrue High Risk Panel

The BreastTrue High Risk Panel is intended to detect mutations in seven high-risk genes, including BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, PALB2, PTEN, STK11, and TP53.

After the test is complete, you’ll be provided with a report similar to this sample.

BRCATrue

If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or are of an Ashkenazi Jewish or Hispanic ethnic background, Pathway claims their BRCATrue test can possibly identify genetic mutations in two weeks. Afterward, we’re told you’ll receive easy to interpret and “clinically actionable” results (here is a sample of what you might expect.

ColoTrue

If you have a family history of colon cancer (or have certain risk factors, such as Abnormal MSI and/or IHC testing, a History of ≥ 10 adenomas or polyps, and more), Pathway tells us their ColoTrue test that looks at 14 different genes that may increase the need for “colorectal cancer surveillance.”

Here is a sample report of what you might expect once testing is complete.

LynchSyndromeTrue

If you have an increased risk of Lynch syndrome due to hereditary factors, Pathway’s LynchSyndromTrue test includes full sequencing of MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2 genes in just 2-3 weeks.

Both blood and saliva are accepted, and you can even increase the screening to 14 total genes. Here is a sample report.

Carrier Status DNA Insight

Pathway’s Carrier Status DNA Insight test screens patients for 70+ recessive genetic diseases, and helps you understand if you’re at an increased risk of passing them on to your children.

The Carrier Status DNA test can be used preconception or prenatal and tests for the following (here is a sample report):

  • ACOG-Recommended Conditions – Beta-thalassemia, Canavan disease, Cystic fibrosis, and more
  • Ashkenazi Jewish Conditions – Bloom syndrome, Canavan disease, Cystic fibrosis, Factor XI deficiency, and more
  • Additional Conditions - Acrodermatitis enteropathica, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, Galactosemia, Sandhoff disease, and more

OME App

Finally, we have Pathway Genomics' soon-to-be-released OME App, which promises to bring together all the genetic information in your test results, along with health records, wearables, and other data sets. Then, the app uses IBM Watson’s “machine-based deep learning” (aka artificial intelligence) and data science to provide personalized, actionable recommendations.

For example, depending on how much movement your wearable device detects, it might make a recommendation to move more based on your genetic results. It may also be used in combination with a wireless scale to provide feedback and diet coaching.

How Much Do Pathway Genomics Tests Cost?

There were prices listed for only three of Pathway Genomics’ tests at the time of our research:

  • PathWay Fit: $599
  • CancerIntercept: Subscription plans range between $299 and $699
  • CancerIntercept Monitor: Between $999 and $2,999, depending on the number of tests ordered

Will your insurance cover any of Pathway’s costs? Whether or not they’re covered (and to what extent) depends on the specific insurance plan, so the best option would be to contact your carrier directly.

If you have questions about the cost of Pathway’s tests, their Client Services department can assist at 877-505-7374.

Are There Any Online Reviews For Pathway Genomics?

Although Pathway Genomics has been offering genetics testing since 2008, there was very little individual feedback at the time of our research (outside of the company’s hiring practices). However, we found several in-depth articles from high-profile resources.

New York Times

A 2013 NY Times article provided some in-depth insight after the author ordered three different tests from as many companies, one of which was Pathway Genomics.

In a nutshell, they found widely varying results between the companies, often based on semantics, since there aren’t any industry standards yet for testing like this (we’ll come back to this thought shortly). For example, they noted one company listed her risk of type 2 diabetes was “medium,” while another claimed it was “decreased.” Of this, which should cause a concern, if any?

Another big factor is that these tests (whether from Pathway Genomics or another company) only analyze about a million of the 3+ billion SNPs within nucleotides, which Dr. Robert Klitzman noted is like reading a book, but only looking at the first letter of each page and then trying to get an idea of what the story’s about.

In the end, Dr. Klitzman, concluded by saying:

“There are only 23 diseases that start in adulthood, can be treated, and for which highly predictive tests exist. All are rare, with hereditary breast cancer the most common. A small percentage of people who get tested will get useful information, but for most people, the results are not clinically useful, and they may be misleading or confusing.”

Business Insider

On the other side of the coin, Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey found that her PathwayFit results were “frighteningly accurate.”

After sending in her samples, she received a 51-page PDF outlining her results. She noted that the document made it clear that genes aren’t always the only problem (regarding weight, for example), and she found the free one-hour appointment with a registered dietician to be very insightful.

Summarizing her experience, she noted:

“The price is a bit high, but for someone looking to use all the information available to craft a lifelong eating and exercise plan, I'd say it would definitely be worth the spit take.”

MIT Technology Review

Regarding Pathway’s CancerIntercept test, MIT Technology Review noted that there’s very little data to correlate with specific results. They noted:

“[The company doesn’t] know how accurate it is or, more importantly, if it’s good medicine. Finding hints of cancer could save lives, but it might also send consumers jumping into MRI machines searching for cancers that don’t exist or that won’t ever hurt them. Wonder what kind of medical mayhem could result?”

A similar sentiment was shared by Reuters and The Verge.

Are There Other Genetic Testing Services? How Does Pathway Compare?

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these same thoughts are shared for many of the most popular genetic testing services, including 23andMe, Harmony Prenatal (if you’re expecting) GeneDx, deCODE Genetics, Invitae, Gene Planet, and many others. In addition, you might be able to find genetic testing services through local hospitals and other medical centers.

Granted, not all of these will feature the same in-depth reporting as Pathway (most screen only for genetic diseases), but the point is that there are certainly other options.

Perhaps the biggest difference with these other options is that you could pay several hundred dollars for a Pathway test, while others (such as 23andMe) can be purchased for as little as $99. Again, it seems like you get meaningfully more information with Pathway, but only you can decide if this is worth the added expense.

Speaking of which, let’s wrap things up and help you come to an informed conclusion about Pathway Genomics.

Is Pathway Genomics a Path to Better Health?

We’ve covered a lot of territory in this review, but whether we’re talking about Pathway or another genetic testing service, it’s important to keep in mind that this technology is fairly new. On top of this, without enough data (more of which is accumulating every day), it’s currently not clear exactly how useful these tests are for determining potential diseases, or for other things, like helping you lose weight or otherwise optimize your health.

Instead, you might think of these tests like conversation-starters; based on your genetic information, they could provide a launching point for you and you doctor to discuss potential courses of action. You’ll also be connected with one of Pathway’s genetic counselors after your test, which can help you decipher all of the information it contains.

Speaking of which, remember that you’ll need a physician’s reference in order to purchase a Pathway test. If yours isn’t available and you’re looking for the PathwayFIT test, the company claims they can provide you with an “online physician to review and approve your order.”

Given everything we’ve discussed and all the different factors involved, if you’re considering any of Pathway Genomics’ testing services, we’d recommend discussing it with your doctor (after all, you’ll need their recommendation to order one, anyway). This way, they can help you better understand if one of their tests can deliver a solid level of value for the money.

What did you experience with Pathway Genomics? Were your test results useful? Do you feel it was worth the money? Tell us about it by writing a review below!

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