Skip to Content
Biotechnology

A US genome company is ceasing operations over China concerns

December 5, 2019
Veritas
VeritasVeritas

Veritas Genetics, which offered to sequence people's genomes for rock-bottom prices, will cease US operations after it failed to raise a new round of financing.

Low price: The company, based in Boston, had tried to entice consumers to get their genome sequenced by lowering the price to $599 last July.

At that cost, Veritas was losing money on every genome. But it hoped to introduce a Netflix-like subscription model; customers would pay ongoing fees to learn new things from their DNA, such as disease risk predictions.

The company had sequenced between 5,000 and 10,000 genomes so far, but there were signs that demand for the service was weak.

China worry: A person familiar with the company said it was going out of business in the US because it could not find new investors given concerns it had previously taken money from China. 

Veritas's main investors are all Chinese. They are Lilly Asia Venture, Simcere Pharmaceutical, and TrustBridge Partners. 

The US has warned companies working in sensitive areas, including DNA data, over taking Chinese funds. In June, US regulators forced the sale of another American health company, PatientsLikeMe, because its primary investor was in China.  

Veritas had been trying to raise $50 to $75 million since earlier this year, this person said, but new investors balked at the Chinese ownership. 

Bad news:  Veritas tweeted this afternoon that because of an "unexpected adverse financing situation" it would suspend its operations in the US. CNBC reported that it had laid off most of its staff.

The company says it is going to try to make a comeback and continues operations overseas. "I can clarify this temporarily affects US operations only," Mirza Cifric, the CEO of Veritas, said in an email. He said customers outside the US would continue to be served.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

How scientists want to make you young again

Research labs are pursuing technology to “reprogram” aging bodies back to youth.

Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever

Hope, hype, and self-experimentation collided at an exclusive conference for ultra-rich investors who want to extend their lives past 100. I went along for the ride.

Human brain cells transplanted into baby rats’ brains grow and form connections

When lab-grown clumps of human neurons are transplanted into newborn rats, they grow with the animals. The research raises some tricky ethical questions.

The debate over whether aging is a disease rages on

In its latest catalogue of health conditions, the World Health Organization almost equated old age with disease. Then it backed off.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.