The recent news that 23andMe and Ancestry were laying off employees following a slump in sales signaled dark times for consumer genetic testing companies. Despite this, Nebula Genomics has announced its launching a new consumer product using the entire genome sequencing for just $299. This makes it the most affordable personal genome sequencing product on the market.
"We hope to really revitalize the whole space by making whole-genome sequencing affordable, providing more comprehensive, dynamic user-driven reporting and by addressing privacy concerns that many people have," said Dennis Grishin co-founder at Nebula Genomics.
The Californian-based startup is starkly different from 23andMe, Ancestry, and other direct-to-consumer companies. Where Nebula performs a 30X whole genome sequencing, other companies use genotyping, which isn't as extensive as whole-genome sequencing. Genotyping only focuses on less than 1% of a person's total genome. This means they could be in good stead to attract former 23andMe and Ancestry customers.
Nebula isn't worried about the recent downturn experienced by other genetic-testing companies. Instead, they're betting on the product's comprehensive edge, affordability, and focus on security. The Harvard University spinout has planned to launch a blockchain-based data management platform to improve the safety of the consumers' genetic data.
"We are twice as cheap as the nearest competitors. So right now, the price is about $600 or $700 if you want to buy 30X whole genome sequencing. We are doing it at $299," Grishin explained. The testing kit includes lifetime access to results and analysis as well as weekly updates on new genetic discoveries.
In 2018 the company had announced a different business model where consumers could have their whole genome sequenced for zero dollars. It would, however, cost them their data, which they could sell to researchers in exchange Nebula tokens. These tokens could be used to access information, like what results mean for their health and as well as the health of their future children. This token option is no longer available; however, their sponsored sequencing feature resembles the company's former business model.
Nebula Genomics was founded in 2016 by Grishin with Kamal Obbad and Harvard Medical School genetics professor, George Church, Ph.D.