Genetic screening set to become big business

Posted May 2, 2015 by Tim Sandle
Genetics testing is set to become big business and several rounds of investment and deals have taken place, with start-up companies preparing for a rise in the public's interest in predictive genetic testing,
A lab worker at the JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research centre at Canada's National Microbiolo...
A lab worker at the JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research centre at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, on October 9, 2014
Michel Comte, AFP
Digital Journal has reported on several developments in the field of genetics testing this year. For example, 23andMe, the personal genomics firm, has announced plans to make its own medicines. This plan involves deals with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, it was reported that a California biotech start-up, called Cambrian Genomics, has raised $10 million with the aim of allowing customers to modify or even create their own custom genetically modified organisms.
To add to these, Silicon Valley-based Color Genomics has announced it is to offer genetic screening of saliva samples for BRCA mutations associated with elevated breast and ovarian cancer risk for $249. This is a fraction of the price any other service is charging. Myriad Genetics, the current market leader in BRCA testing, charges $4,000 for a test that identifies mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes linked to an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes in the human body that help to suppress tumor development. When mutations occur, this leads to the risk of cancer. For instance, harmful mutations in these genes may produce a hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome in affected persons.
Across the Atlantic, the French medical research institution Inserm and Quest Diagnostics has introduced BRCA Share, a private-public partnership to collect data on BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations to determine the impact of uncharacterized mutations on cancer risk. Companies will pay a sliding-scale fee to access the data, which will be freely available to non-commercial researchers.