The $200 Genome

On sale now by Veritas Genetics, but likely to be the list price in a year or two.


Veritas Genetics

Veritas Genetics, a relatively new biotech startup, is having a sale on its whole genome sequencing product for just $200 for the first 1,000 customers. The holy grail of genome sequencing has been to get the price down to $1,000, which is the company's current list price. Genotype screening companies like 23andMe check on a list of specific genetic variants amounting to about 1 percent of your genome whereas whole genome sequencing seeks to identify all of the 3.2 billion DNA base pairs that constitute your genome.

Veritas' standard test provides users with insights on the genetic risks associated with more than 200 different diseases including those recommended for reporting by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. In addition, the sequencing identifies customers who carry one copy of more than 40 different gene mutations that, when present in two copies, causes a genetic disorder. Also Veritas' sequencing provides information on a customer's likely responses to more than 150 drugs and identifies more than 50 traits related to nutrition, longevity, and so forth. The company provides customers with one complimentary video session with a genetic counselor to help them to interpret the results.

Veritas CEO Mirza Cifric tells Wired that it's more than just a holiday season gimmick. "We're sending a clear signal to the medical research community that the $99 genome will be here in three to five years," he says. "People might be thinking it's still a decade away. We want to wake them up."

Well, I couldn't wait––I purchased a discounted Veritas test yesterday.

As Philippa Brice at the Britain-based bioethical think tank, the Foundation for Genomics and Population Health, has noted, "Genetic exceptionalism is the belief that genetic information is special and deserving of greater considerations of consent to and privacy of sequencing and analysis than any other form of medical data. In fact, genetic information is for the large part much more innocuous than other forms of personal medical data." Correct.

Since genetic privacy is largely bunkum, in keeping with my full genetic disclosure policy I will let readers know if the test turns up anything interesting.

Disclosure: I have no financial relationship whatsoever with Veritas Genetics except as a new customer.