You Can Now Get Your Whole Genome Sequenced for Less Than an iPhone
But will people buy it — and is all that genetic information actually worth it?
Veritas Genetics is making a big bet that people want to know what’s in their genome.
The Boston-based company, which started offering whole genome sequencing in 2016 for $999 — the first company to do so below four figures — announced today that it is lowering the price to $599. For much less than the price of the latest iPhone model, consumers can get a full readout of their DNA.
Veritas’ move is a clear signal that genetic sequencing technology is getting cheaper as it becomes more automated — but whether people will want to know about the disease risks that may lurk in their genomes is yet to be seen. But Veritas thinks its new price point will be low enough to convince customers that decoding their entire genome is worth it.
“This price point will change the paradigm of how people look at genomics and how they access it,” Mirza Cifric, CEO of Veritas, told OneZero.
Whole genome sequencing is the process of spelling out a person’s entire DNA sequence, all 6 billion letters. By contrast, most consumer genetic tests, including 23andMe and AncestryDNA, use a less comprehensive technique called genotyping, which only decodes specific genes of interest. It’s the difference between reading the entire book of life versus just a few pages.
In 2003, after 13 years and an estimated $2.7 billion, an international research effort completed sequencing the first human genome. The project provided researchers with more insight into human genes and their functions than ever before, but it wasn’t long before the industry realized the financial value of the decoded genome. By 2007, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company called Knome had introduced the first direct-to-consumer genome sequencing test for $350,000. A few years later, San Diego company Illumina, which manufactures the most widely used sequencing machines in the U.S., began offering genome sequencing to consumers with a doctor’s permission at an initial price of around $50,000.
Veritas’ whole genome product — dubbed myGenome — gives customers…