Innovation That Matters

Genome mapping services

Work & Lifestyle

Human beings have long wished for a way to know what their genes hold in store for them. It’s a wish that’s starting to be fulfilled with the emergence of personal genome services. Three contenders in this area have all made announcements within the last few weeks: deCODEme, 23andMe and Navigenics. For an introductory price of USD 985, Iceland-based deCODEme scans more than a million variants in an individual’s genome and calculates the risks of developing 17 different diseases, including asthma, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. The analysis uses a simple cheek swab, and the results also allow consumers to learn about their individual traits and genetic ancestry, as well as comparing their genetic profiles with those of a friend or relative. All data is stored securely online and the company provides updates as new scientific developments emerge. 23andMe, meanwhile, offers a USD 999 service that uses a saliva sample rather than cheek swab and analyses some 600,000 genetic variants. Consumers can use 23andMe’s web-based interactive tools to explore the results, investigating their origins and genetic connections with others as well as understanding how the latest genetic findings apply to them. Currently, California-based 23andMe offers its service to US consumers only. Finally, early next year California-based Navigenics will begin offering a USD 2,500 saliva-based service that maps an individual’s genetic makeup and then compares it with current research on the genetic bases of 20 actionable conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Included among the results are assessments of the individual’s risks relative to those of the general population and suggested steps the consumer can take to minimize the chances of developing a disease. Also included are a consultation with a certified genetic counsellor and a one-year subscription that continuously checks test results against new developments in genetics. These are obviously highly specialized services, but their promise has drawn the attention of major investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Sequoia Capital and Google. Opportunities here? How about developing auxiliary services? With a wealth of sophisticated scientific data at their fingertips, consumers will increasingly need trusted medical consultants to help make sense of it all and navigate follow-up steps as needed, from additional testing to dietary advice. Websites: Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen



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