Founders: Mirza Cifric (CEO), George Church, Preston Estep, Jonathan Zhao
Headquarters: Danvers, Massachusetts
Funding: $50 million
Key technologies: Artificial intelligence, Biochips, cloud computing, machine learning
Industry: Biotechnology, genetics, personal health
In November genome company Veritas Genetics dropped the price for its whole genome sequencing to $199 (from $999) for its first 1,000 customers. The company says the sale wasn’t a gimmick. It was to make a point that advancements in medical research, powered by AI and machine learning, will soon make the $199 price tag — and lower — an everyday occurrence.
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Here’s how it works: Unlike competitors such as 23andMe, which provides only limited information based on a fraction of your DNA, Veritas is the first company to offer consumers and physicians whole genome sequencing and interpretation—meaning that it looks at all 6.4 billion DNA molecules in the human body.
The company’s flagship product is called myGenome, and it screens 40,000 genes for more than 1,200 clinically relevant conditions, including those related to cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune and neurological disorders. It can also tell you if you’re likely to have an adverse reaction to more than 200 drugs that treat conditions such as depression, asthma and diabetes, to name a few.
The company was co-founded in 2014 by genetics pioneer George Church. He worked on the Human Genome Project —the first initiative to map all genes in the human genome. Veritas claims that its price point, the easy access of the test, and its comprehensiveness will make it the gold standard for genetic testing. The myGenome kit requires a prescription from a doctor (unlike 23andMe), but otherwise the process is the same. Patients order the company’s saliva-collection kit, gather a sample, and then mail the kit and saliva sample back to the company. From there a report is generated and sent back to your smartphone or computer. The results can be reviewed with a physician or one of the company’s genetic counselors.
In October the company opened up its European facilities and team to service Europe and Latin America. Veritas has raised $52 million from investors, including Philab Holdings, Trustbridge Partners and Lilly Asia Ventures.