Have Your Entire Genome Sequenced for $250

This offer is only available in the U.K. and in South Africa. However, the fact that anyone can provide your entire genome sequence for only $250 is news. I suspect similar prices will soon be available elsewhere although the laws in some countries could be an issue.

Customers of South African health insurance provider Discovery Health will soon be able to have their entire genome sequenced by Human Longevity Inc., which genomics pioneer Craig Venter cofounded last year. The deal between Discovery and Human Longevity marks the first agreement struck between an insurer and a personal genomics company aimed at offering wide access to genetic information. Discovery insures approximately 4 million people in South Africa and the U.K.

Human Longevity will share the genetic information it gathers—which will come from 20,000 genes, including BRCA1/2 and key colon cancer and heart disease genes—with patients’ doctors or genetic counselors rather than with individuals. According to Venter, his firm will also keep a deidentified copy of each participant’s genetic information along with access to their medical and insurance records.

There is one chilling bit of information in the announcement, however: “Clients should be aware that the information may impact on their insurability in future,” said Jonathan Broomberg, chief executive of Discovery Health. “We cannot guarantee that it will have no impact.”

An abbreviated story is available at http://goo.gl/XvEJUn with a longer article in the MIT Technology Review at http://goo.gl/CWjLTZ.

My thanks to newsletter reader Patrick L Coleman for telling me about this article.

3 Comments

Except it isn’t the entire genome – only about 2% will be sequenced according to Technology Review, and whilst this 2% covers most of the medically important areas of the genome it won’t necessarily be as useful to family historians.

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It’s not the “entire” genome — it’s the 2% of the genome that codes for proteins (i.e. the genes). That said, $250 is a breakthrough price, especially if it includes a detailed analysis.

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REGARDING: There is one chilling bit of information in the announcement, however: “Clients should be aware that the information may impact on their insurability in future,” said Jonathan Broomberg, chief executive of Discovery Health. “We cannot guarantee that it will have no impact.”
This is an issue that has become more, and more likely in the US and one warned about if you have genetic testing done that becomes part of your medical record. Many “Orphan” genetic diseases recommend, and provide, anonymous testing so that you can know the results without it being part of your medical record. Concern also lies in the fact that you had the test done, and that whether or not you tested positive, you are acknowledging a concern about existence in your family LINE which could be extrapolated to your children/descendants by insurance companies.

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