Thanks to Jorge Conde, anyone can have his or her genome sequenced and scoured for clues to future health–all for just under $100,000. Conde is the driving force behind Knome, a personal-genomics startup founded in 2007 that is the first to offer whole-genome sequencing directly to consumers. The approach sets Knome apart from other consumer genomics companies, which analyze just a fraction of an individual’s DNA for a few hundred dollars.
Conde, Knome’s cofounder and CEO, thinks that the commercial value in personal genomics will lie less in sequencing itself than in interpretation. So the company has developed software to manage, protect, and analyze genetic data; the software combs online databases for the latest scientific findings that have been validated, ranks their relevance, and then uses them to probe an individual’s DNA sequence for helpful information.
While Knome’s service is still unaffordable for most people, the cost of DNA sequencing is plummeting–from millions of dollars in 2006 to tens of thousands in 2009. Conde believes that when the price of genome sequencing eventually lands within reach of the average consumer, possibly within the next five years, Knome’s whole-genome focus will put it far ahead of other companies. –Emily Singer
Surfing the Genome: Knome’s browser software allows customers to scan the full sequence of their genomes for genetic variations that increase (highlighted in red) or decrease (highlighted in green) the risk for a number of diseases. Users can scan their entire genomes (top) or focus on a single chromosome–or even specific portions of a chromosome (bottom).
Courtesy of Knome