Veritas Genetics Slashes the Price of Whole Genome Sequencing to $600

Updated on July 19th, 2019

What's Covered in this Story?

    Disclaimer: Before You Read

    It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

    Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More.

    Does this sound like you? You read about the insights available from whole-genome sequencing from one of our articles.

    You eagerly checked into the price only to discover it would cost you a month’s rent or mortgage payment to get it done.

    Suddenly, instead of becoming a participant in a whole new world of personal genetic information, you settled for becoming a spectator.

    How can you discover your own genetic makeup when the price is outside your budget? 

    All this is about to change … 

    A technological and pricing revolution is about to shake up the pricing guidelines of commercial genetic testing companies around the world.

    In a few short years, it’s possible that full sequencing genome sequencing will be widely available. It will either become free or at least significantly more affordable.   

    Instead of sitting in the bleachers with the rest of the crowd of forward thinkers anticipating the next scientific wave, you may get to play in the game. 

    Although it may seem a rather far-fetched notion to talk about discounting expensive innovative science, some recent industry news may suggest affordable whole-genome sequencing is getting closer. 

    In a recent price change bordering on fantasy for those eager to find out about their DNA but discouraged by the high cost, Veritas Genetics has discounted whole-genome sequencing by 40%, dropping it from $999 to $599. 

    A Sign of Future Changes

    George Church, the Co-founder of Veritas, a competitor of 23andMe, believes this generous discount is just the beginning. The Harvard scientist speculates that full genome sequencing may drop as low as $100 or $200. 

    This sharp price drop may change the world of genetics the same way the price drop of personal computers changed the world of commercial computing.  

    Is the same science fiction fantasy about to unfold in the world of genetics? 

    Harvard scientist George Church thinks drastic price cuts in whole-genome sequencing are completely within the realm of possibility. This affordability will soon lead millions of consumers to ask for their own full DNA profile. 

    Why Whole-Genome Sequencing Is a Big Deal 

    In ancient times, all roads led to Rome because that was the hub of the civilized world. By analogy, all genetic tests will lead you to the genome.

    Think of whole-genome sequencing as the motherlode of genetic testing. It’s the most comprehensive way to find out everything you want to know about your genetic makeup.  

    If it becomes more affordable, it will become more available; and when it does, chances are it will make all other genetic tests obsolete. 

    Some statistics may help you appreciate why achieving the whole-genome sequence in 2003 was such a monumental scientific achievement:

    It took 15 years of painstaking research.  

    It required the combined brainpower of 20 laboratories.  

    And it cost billions — specifically, about $3 billion. 

    A New Hero on the Scene

    How is it possible for Veritas to be so bold and optimistic about offering deeply discounted whole-genome sequencing? It’s because, like any good story, there is a hero around to save the day.

    Since we’re talking about scientific breakthroughs, the hero is not a person, but a thing  — a new technology.

    Returning to our analogy about computers, the technology that turned the price tide from technology only governments and huge corporations could afford to a computer in your home was the microprocessor.

    Not only were computers suddenly more affordable, but their performance was far superior, too.  

    The hero in the whole-genome testing story is AI machine learning. It can automate processes that previously required many hours of work from highly trained human beings. As a result, everything is now faster and becoming more affordable. 

    Rodrigo Martinez, the chief marketing and design officer at Veritas, called the pricing revolution an inflection point.

    In a CNBC article describing the far-reaching consequences of the Veritas-initiated pricing revolution, he explained, “This is the point where the curve turns upward.

    You reach a critical mass when you are able to provide a product that gives value at a specific price point. This is the beginning of that. That’s why it’s seismic.”