In 2003, before Facebook and the iPhone, the first human genome was sequenced. The cost was$3 billion. While Facebook and smartphones have become everyday tools, DNA sequencing rapidly evolved from an expensive process into a quick, reliable, relatively cheap and widely used predictive tool that provides insights on diseases and personalized treatments.
Soon, DNA sequencing will become a critical part of healthcare technology. It is used today to develop targeted drugs and therapies. DNA sequencing facilitated direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic test kits that offer insights on ancestry and snippets of health information.
Justin Kao, co-founder and SPV business development of Helix, said the industry needs a time of significant change.
“The consumer genomics industry is reaching an inflection point – sequencing and data storage costs are declining, our understanding of the genome is exponentially growing, and consumer interest continues to increase a swell. We believe that these factors will drive enormous growth in the industry”, Kao said
Too many companies creeping into consumer genomics are offering services that lack scientific evidence – like nutrigenomics, beauty, and dating genomics.
Dr. Eric Topo, a geneticist and cardiologist at Scripps Translational Science Institute, stated that the current direct-to-consumer genetic testing landscape is a market based on weak science.
Benefits of genomics are revolutionary, but must be used in different ways. One of the primary aims of genomics is to generate personalized and actionable insights that lead to better health. Much work has been done: we know how genes influence and interact with a person’s health, especially we know that most of common and rare diseases are genetic.
There is a subset of the population that is not being served. They might be interested in learning about genomics, divining some insights with the absolute medical need or urgent applications.
So, what I wish is that direct-to-consumer genetic testing market will become a different market. We need new companies to enter this market and provide scientific solutions to customers. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing could change the way to approach to healthcare, but not in the way we are currently used to.
Genomics is science, not a joke.