For $999, you can get your genome sequenced and analyzed and see what medical conditions you’re predisposed to. That’s the proposition from Veritas Genetics, a Boston-based company, which is targeting an April launch for its test, analysis and consultation services, along with an app to house all that information and interaction.
This suite of information and services, called myGenome, includes an app that displays all of a user’s genome information, shows predisposed health conditions of varying risk levels, offers on-demand video conferencing with a genetic counselor, and gives a user the ability to share relevant genetic information with fitness coaches and nutritionists. The truly interesting and controversial part of this sub-$1,000 offering is, of course, the screening for medical predispositions.
In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Veritas Genetics CEO and co-founder Mirza Cifric emphasized that myGenome is just a screening test and not a diagnostic. But that won’t stop the close examination that’s surely to come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others.
A measure Veritas Genetics is taking to quell scrutiny is requiring a doctor to order its genome test, which takes its offering out of the hands of stringent FDA regulations for “direct-to-consumer” DNA tests.
For those wondering how Veritas Genetics can make money off of this kind of offering at such a low price point, Cifric told MIT Technology Review that the company may charge users $100 or more for additional genetic counseling sessions, for instance.
The genome platform from Veritas Genetics and other companies in the space shines the spotlight on a question of great importance: Are everyday people ready to hear and respond well to unfavorable genome test results?
“People need to think through what they do, and do not, want to hear,” said George Church, co-founder of Veritas Genetics, in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. He said a doctor’s approval should be part of the process for now, in this “transition period.”