Last week, the genomic start-up company Navigenics issued a press release introducing their team of advisors and investors, and announcing $25 million in financing. There was an accompanying story in the Wall Street Journal, “Is There a Heart Attack in Your Future?” According to the article, the tests that will eventually be offered by Navigenics have already been tested by at least one of the company’s co-founders:
“David Agus, a cancer researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who is a co-founder of the company, says he took the test and found he had a 68% risk of having a heart attack in his lifetime, compared with about 40% in the general population. His kids, he says, now help him stay away from French fries. “I’m a believer in empowerment,” he says.”
Yesterday, I looked at the size of the Genetic Genealogy market, and concluded that as of November 2007, there had been as many (or perhaps ‘at least’) 600,000 to 700,000 genetic genealogy tests performed, with 80,000 to 100,000 new tests per year. As the footnoteMavenmentioned, it might be interesting to see if we could turn those numbers into dollar amounts.
The following is a very rough attempt to translate the numbers into market value, with the following caveats: (1) I am not an economist, and I haven’t taken an economics class since high school; (2) the numbers do not take into account testing upgrades, which are offered by a number of companies; (3) the numbers do not take into account sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome, specialized allele tests, or combination tests (e.g. Y-DNA and mtDNA) and; (4) the average cost of testing only reflects the companies included in yesterday’s accounting, and do not include the free SMGF test.
I was recently having a discussion with someone about the size of the genetic testing market, and I mentioned the number of people who had already paid for genetic genealogy testing. This oft-repeated number, 460,000, is the addition of two figures from a short 2006 EMBO article (“Genetic Genealogy Goes Global” EMBO 1072 (2006)):
“Companies such as Oxford Ancestors, Family Tree DNA and DNAPrint Genomics have attracted more than 300,000 customers in the past six years.”
“During the first 15 months of the five-year [Genographic] project, 160,000 people signed on, far more than had been anticipated.”
So, 300,000 + 160,000 = 460,000. A year later, however, these numbers are obsolete and I wanted to bring them as up-to-date as possible. To do this, I took the 2006 EMBO papers and scoured the internet for testing numbers revealed by any of the genetic genealogy testing firms. The results suggest that the current number is much higher than 460,000. My findings are below:
1.Oxford Ancestors, FTDNA, and DNAPrint Genomics = 300,000 up to November 2006. Although I am not certain of the accuracy of this number from the 2006 EMBO article, I decided to use it as a starting point.
David Hamilton at VentureBeat: Life Sciences recently wrote about the potential business plans of two popular genomic companies – Navigenics and 23andMe. It appears that the post was motivated by the recent article in Portfolio. David writes:
“Over the last few months, startups like 23andMe and Navigenics have attracted a fair bit of attention for promising to let ordinary people search through their own genomes to better understand their disease risk, genealogy and ancestry. One of the first major efforts to figure them out, however â€” courtesy of the November issue of Portfolio â€” left me with the distinct impression that these companies may not actually be anywhere near as revolutionary as they seem.”
There’s some discussion in the comment section, and David presents a number of links to the many previous articles he’s written about 23andMe and Navigenics.
DNA Heritage is hosting a video contest for people who have undergone DNA testing for ancestral purposes. Following are the details of the contest:
Dear Customer,Thank you for all of your suggestions for improving the website which we have put into motion. Among them is flexible DNA storage, which we shall implement at the end of this month (we’ll let you know when).Spotted the video link on our home page? We wanted to hear about your own experience.Have a story to tell?
Want to tell people why you took a DNA test or what it told you about you and your family? How has it helped your research? How did you do it and what did you get out of it?
Tell us by video and we’ll give you 50% off your next test, be it for you, a friend or some distant cousin in another part of the world. Not a bad Xmas present for a few minutes work…
If we think it’s the best one we’ll give you three free tests.
As I mentioned earlier today, GeneTree has been redesigned, and actually launched this morning. There is a FAQ page, and a new blog. There’s also an extensive Press Room, with logos and screen shots – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
So what is GeneTree? According to the FAQ:
“GeneTree is a family history sharing site created to help people everywhere understand how their personal stories belong within the framework of the greater human genetic story â€“ by discovering their genetic heritage and identity, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and perspective through personal stories, photos, video and documents.”
I’m sure there will be a lot of media coverage today and over the course of the week, but here is an article at Computerworld. Following is the official press release:
Genome Technology Online mentioned the new partnership between DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. and BioServe, a company that offers â€œthe Global RepositoryÂ®, a growing library of over 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples linked to detailed clinical and demographic data from 140,000 consented and anonymized patients from four continents.â€
As part of the partnership, DNAPrint will analyze the 600,000 human samples in the Global Repository using the ANCESTRYbyDNA test.According to Richard Gabriel, the CEO and President of DNAPrint Genomics:
“By removing the question of ancestry from a clinical sample researchers can more readily evaluate which medicines will produce side effects within certain ethnic groups, and which medicines will work for the widest spectrum of a population.”
Tim Agazio at Genealogy Reviews Online presents the first post in a series that will review the genetic genealogy testing process at DNAAncestry. In this first installment, Tim discusses the website, the tests offered, and the ease of ordering.
I will actually be doing a similar review in the near future, as I’ve ordered a test from DNAAncestry for my maternal grandfather’s Y-chromosome. Since he unfortunately passed away in 1983, it will be a great opportunity to talk about finding other alternatives, finding other people with the same surname, and joining surname projects – in addition to other questions often asked about genetic genealogy. If there is anything you’d like me to highlight in this process, please leave a comment and I will do my best to address it!
DNA Direct, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, has just announced the addition of Ancestry and Ethnicity DNA testing to their suite of products.
One of the best things about this offering is the FIND tool. FIND is a way to identify the type of DNA test that best suits the customer’s need(s). Through a series of very simple questions that guide the user step-by-step, the tool helps him or her decide between ethnicity tests, Y-DNA tests, or mtDNA tests. I had fun just playing around with it.
The field of personal genomics is just beginning.With recent advances in sequencing, whole genome sequencing (or whole genome SNP analysis) has become increasingly affordable.While the Human Genome Project cost $3 billion for one genome, Watsonâ€™s genome was sequenced for $1 to 2 million just a few years later.
In addition to the oft-discussed start-up company 23andMe, a least one other personal genomics company has announced its intention to offer sequencing and analysis to consumers.Navigenetics, based in Redwood Shores, California, describes itself as:
â€œ[A] privately held company offering personalized, genetics-based consumer health and wellness services to our members. Our founders and advisors include leading genetic scientists, physicians, genetic counselors, bioethicists, patient advocates, health policy and technology experts and a management team that has launched some of the most successful online health and information resources of our time.â€