Posted on Aug 03, 2020, 5 p.m.
Ancestry is relaunching its health focused services that are reported to be using next generation sequencing technology that was developed by Quest Diagnostics in order to provide customers with their upgraded genomic family history and risks of developing certain inheritable diseases.
The company still has plans to evaluate the genes that are behind different cancers as well as heart disease and blood disorders, but with these physician ordered next generation sequencing tests replacing the company’s previous microarray based offerings.
According to the company, the new offering promises to be more accurate and to provide more data by reading the portions of the genome that are typically left unalayzed by microarrays that have underpinned most consumer genetic testing product offerings over recent years. This upgrade can lead to increased detection rates for the risks of certain cancers, but they are not used as clinical diagnostic tests, nor have they been approved by the FDA for such use either.
“As the market leader in consumer genomics for more than a decade, we are proud to make an important leap forward in democratizing access to comprehensive genetic health risk detection,” said Ancestry’s president and CEO, Margo Georgiadis. “We are committed to our long-term vision of helping millions get on the path toward living longer, healthier lives through affordable personalized, preventive health screening in partnership with the healthcare ecosystem.”
AncestryHealth also has plans to provide consumers with some remote access to genetic counselors, which is in partnership with PWNHealth, this move is to add context to lab reports and provide resources for connecting consumers with providers for future healthcare decisions. The company also has plans of creating a downloadable family health history record that can be delivered to clinicians which could also be used to help fill out medical forms.
“This improvement in automating next generation sequencing will enable genetic screening faster and at much lower cost, and could have profound implications for healthcare in the future, truly empowering better health through actionable insights for millions of people who want to know more about their health risks," said Quest’s chairman, president and CEO, Steve Rusckowski.
"It wasn't long ago that genetic sequencing took months and cost thousands of dollars,” Rusckowski said. “Quest's proprietary innovation enables sequencing insights in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost."
The new testing kit from AncestryHealth will cost around $179, and it will be available in 47 states within America, outside of Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York.
In related news to this Google’s life extension biotech branch Calico has recently secured access to data that is held by Ancestry.com that will enable Calico to pick through genetic data and millions of family trees to search for contributors to long lifespans and drug targets.
This deal also gives Calico access to another source of this data via the parent company of Ancestry LLC, in the anti-aging search efforts with the large and ready made source of genetic data and supporting details to each individual’s lifespan within the system. While Calico has not released many details into what it is working on, the company has said that Ancestry fits in nicely with perceptions of how a biotech set up by Google will operate, as number crunching underpins all of Google’s divergent interests.
"Now that we've got 1 million samples, there's enough statistical power in the dataset to elucidate drug targets," Ken Chahine, Ancestry's executive vice president and head of DNA and health, told Bloomberg. "If you aggregate a set of individuals who had long-lived families and we have their genetic information as well, that's a way to start making hypotheses about the heritability of longevity.”
Use of Ancestry data in biopharma R&D moves the company into a field more commonly associated with their DNA testing rivals 23andME, the difference being Ancestry’s wealth of data on lifespans, relationships and locations that is housed in its tens of millions of family trees. 23andMe may have the edge when it comes to phenotypic data, but Ancestry is setting up health focused DNA testing services and has recently started allowing users to create family health histories, which apparently fits in with Calico’s plans.
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