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Direct-to-consumer genomics reinvents itself
An excerpt of an interesting article mentioning Knome [emphasis ours]:
…Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Knome made one of the splashiest entries into the field, but has now turned entirely to contract research. The company began providing DTC whole-genome sequencing to independently wealthy individuals at a time when the price was still sky high. The company’s first client, Dan Stoicescu, was a former biotech entrepreneur who paid $350,000 to have his genome sequenced in 2008 so he could review it “like a stock portfolio” as new genetic discoveries unfolded4. About a year later, the company was auctioning off a genome, with such frills as a dinner with renowned Harvard genomics researcher George Church, at a starting price of $68,000; at the time, a full-genome sequence came at the price of $99,000, indicating that the cost of genome sequencing has been plummeting steadily.
Now, the company’s model is very different. “We stopped working with the ‘wealthy healthy’ in 2010,” says Jonas Lee, Knome’s chief marketing officer. “The model changed as sequencing changed.” The new emphasis, he says, is now on using Knome’s technology and technical expertise for genome interpretation. Knome’s customers are researchers, pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, which in January signed the company up to interpret 1,000 genomes for a study of genetic variants underlying asthma in African American and African Caribbean populations.
Knome is trying to advance the clinical use of genomics, working with groups that “want to be prepared for what’s ahead,” Lee says. “We work with at least 50 academic institutions and 20 pharmaceutical companies looking at variants and drug response.” Cancer and idiopathic genetic diseases are the first sweet spots for genomic sequencing, he says. Although cancer genomics has been hot for a while, a recent string of discoveries of Mendelian diseases5 made by whole-genome sequencing has lit up that field, too. Lee is also confident, however, that “chronic diseases like heart disease are right behind those.” The company also provides software tools. The price for its KnomeDiscovery sequencing and analysis service starts at about $12,000 per sample–read the entire article here.