What would you pay for a complete profile of your DNA?
Genome sequencing company Veritas has announced a sale — lowering the cost of their myGenome product from $999 to $599 in an attempt to reach more consumers. That means for the cost of six electric toothbrushes at Wal-Mart (I’ve done the math) you can get your entire DNA profile. That’s more than 40,000 genes, or 6.4 billion letters of your DNA.
I know what you might be thinking: You can go to 23andMe or AncestryDNA and get the same thing for a lot less. But that’s not entirely true. Those companies use a technique called genotyping, which is a very targeted process that focuses on a handful of specific genes. Veritas is betting you’ll be more interested in purchasing a fully comprehensive DNA report, which can provide you with information on hundreds of health conditions.
According to Veritas, a genotyping report from 23andMe would give you data on less than 1% of your DNA. On the other hand, if you printed your complete DNA sequence with Veritas, the information would fill 2,100,000 pages. Veritas calls it “the master blueprint.”
In addition to providing data on over 200 health conditions and 80 genes, myGenome includes information on gene mutations, such as alterations in the BRCA genes that raise your risk of breast and ovarian cancers. “The report also reveals how effectively you metabolize or potentially react to 170 drugs, and whether you’re a carrier for 40 genetic conditions that can be passed on to future children,” states OneZero. “[These include] cystic fibrosis, hereditary deafness, and Tay-Sachs disease.”
Genome Sequencing — Accuracy and Concerns
Currently, Veritas’s competitors have a much greater customer base. To date, Veritas has fully sequenced only around 5,000 genomes, while more than 26 million people have taken at-home genotyping tests.
Business Insider says Veritas plans to sequence between 15,000 and 20,000 genomes next year, “aiming to hit more than 150,000 in 2021 as its services move closer to the … price point offered by [its] competitors.”
“This is the inflection point,” Veritas chief marketing and design officer Rodrigo Martinez told CNBC. “This is the point where the curve turns upward. You reach a critical mass when you are able to provide a product that gives value at a specific price point. This is the beginning of that. That’s why it’s seismic.”
But experts in the medical community are concerned about how consumers will react to the health risk information they get from whole genome sequencing. OneZero says ordinary people might find that information to be “confusing, stressful, or even overwhelming,” and that those people might take unnecessary action.
For example, if someone discovers via the myGenome test that they have a mutation in their BRCA genes, that person’s fear might lead them to get a mastectomy when this might not be the most appropriate action to take.
“Testing positive for a mutation in a disease-causing gene doesn’t mean you have that disease or will ever develop it,” OneZero reports. “Geneticists are still identifying new genes and learning about how different genetic alterations and interactions can cause disease.”
Veritas has previously had success with a sale on their whole genome sequencing product. Last Thanksgiving, they offered 1,000 myGenome tests for $200 each, which is the price point offered by its competitors. The promotion was supposed to last for two days, but the kits sold out in less than six hours.