Craig Venter’s company Human Longevity is set to offer clients of a South African based insurance company whole exome sequencing for just $250 per individual. This is the lowest price of gene sequencing ever offered.
The human exome is the ‘exon’ regions of our DNA. These are the parts that are actually transcribed into proteins. The exome is very small, only about 1-2% of our entire genome, but mutations in these regions account for about 85% of genetic diseases.
Craig Venter was the first to sequence the entire human genome, originally at the price of $100,000. Since then, the price has fallen drastically and while the exome is only a small portion of the genome, this price is still a new low.
The deal made by Venter’s company and insurance company Discovery Ltd. also included whole genome sequencing for about $1,500.
Venter’s goal is make exome sequencing available to the public and as sequencing prices continue to fall, this will become easier.
The sequencing will be available through a wellness program provided by Discovery and will give clients incentives to living a healthy lifestyle.
Exome sequencing can help show what diseases people are at risk for so they can act accordingly. Knowing about a predisposition to a disease can help individuals lower their chances of getting it. It is also used to diagnose diseases.
Venter will receive the data from clients who participate in the program which can be used towards genetic and drug research.