The company leaves beta following a major investment from Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantOmic. However, here are the limitations of this data
Genetics testing company Genos has announced that it is emerging from beta and opening up partnerships with research institutions, while also offering a new testing platform for people who want to map out their genetic material.
“The Genos platform will enable individuals to sequence their genetic profiles with 50 times more data than current popular sequencing options,” the company said in a statement, and will “crowdsource” medical research by offering that data, with the customers’ consent, for, “groundbreaking research projects on their own terms.”
The full kit the company is offering starts at $499, a bit more than the beta version, and the data from your saliva sample is processed in 90 days. Unfortunately for New Yorkers (and international customers), shipping is restricted to 49 of the 50 states, and not at all outside the US. Buyers must also be at least 18 years old.
As Wired notes, though, there is a limit to what we can do with all of this information. We are reaching a point where the map is rendered in the finest detail, but the roads connecting the points together are blank, because we don’t understand the directions to reach them. Further research will make it clearer what hereditary traits and mutations in a genetic sequence impact which diseases or disorders we suffer from, but there is a long way to go make sense of everything before us.
“If we want to shorten the time to medical cures, we need to break down the silos between genomic data and research and move ownership to the individual,” said Dr. George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and MIT who is also a member of the company’s strategic advisory board.
Genos is aware of these limitations, ones that the industry has faced ever since the beginning. So, in order to better make use of these finely detailed points, “Genos will enable individuals in all studies to retain control over whether and how their genomic data is used in academic and commercial research, and to receive compensation for voluntary participation in research projects.”
Respect for privacy, alongside material incentives and an appeal to the advancement of science, are aimed at, “Cultivating a community around genomics research,” says CEO and Co-Founder Mark Blumling, “promises to illuminate the genetic underpinnings of the human condition, including finding cures to our most elusive diseases.”
The company will partner with four different institutes to help with their projects. The first, NantBioScience, will use the data in clinical and vaccine work for lymphoma and breast case, respectively. NantKwest is going to put the research to use studying skin cancer therapy. The Broad Institute is investigating prior diseases, using Genos’s data, “to understand genetic variants of the prion protein.” Lastly, the Utah Foundation for Biomedical Research will be conducting genetic variances across people with neurological disorders like Tourette syndrome, autism, and ADHD, among others.