The First App Store For Your DNA Is Here

DNA testing is not new to consumers, but it’s a one-shot deal. You send in your sample, then you get to see ancestry and health data provided by the company you chose to use for testing. Some new insights might be added over time, but there’s not much else you can do with that genetic data. A startup called Helix is counting on people being curious enough to drop cash in its DNA app store on a regular basis. The initial testing costs $ 80, and after that you can buy the applications you want.

helix

Helix uses a type of genetic testing called DNA sequencing. Other companies like 23andme are using the far simpler genotyping; Helix is actually finding the pattern of nucleic acids (using flow cells like the one above) in your DNA for around 20,000 different genes, known as the exome. A genotyping test only tells you which variant you have of specific genes, so a full sequence generates about 100 times as much data. Helix is taking this approach because the company is not deciding what sort of data to show users. Instead, that’s all up to third-parties that decide to sell DNA apps to people in the Helix store, and the full sequence includes more precision.

For consumers, the testing process is much the same as other services. You spit in a tube, send it off, and your results are available in a few weeks. The kit itself is only $ 80, whereas many other services cost around $ 200 for a testing kit. However, Helix expects people will buy at least a few DNA apps. It appears right now the only way to buy the testing kit is in combination with at least one app.

The apps come in various categories like family, fitness, and entertainment. These apps will be a bit more expensive than the ones for your phone, though. A company called Institome will tell you about your Neanderthal DNA and what that means for your health with its $ 30 app. Meanwhile, National Geographic had a population genetics app. This app is one of the more expensive at $ 70. You can also get a personalized scarf based on your genetic code for the low, low price of $ 150. It only costs a little less ($ 125) to find out what your genetic code says about your cholesterol levels.

That’s just a sampling—Helix is launching with about 30 DNA apps for your perusal. Although, buying even a few of them will probably end up costing you quite a bit more than the genetic tests you can get from other providers. Still, Helix hopes you’ll come back over time and buy more DNA apps and form a long-term relationship with your genetic code. That would be a profitable relationship for Helix.

Now read: How DNA sequencing works

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech