WGS – The Future of Consumer Genomics
With the falling cost of genome sequencing, it comes as no surprise that there is a growing interest in expanding the availability and accessibility of genomics via consumer testing. Now, Nebula Genomics has entered the market by launching a comprehensive at-home test that analyses the whole genome for just $299.
By using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) instead of genotyping, Nebula is offering up to 10,000 times more data to their clients than other consumer genomic giants like 23AndMe or AncestryDNA, who only analyse a handful of genetic variants.
Nebula are not just offering a cheap WGS service, their business model involves engaging with their clients after sequencing is complete and offering additional privacy options. After receiving their DNA results, customers can enjoy a subscription service that provides weekly updates about new genetic studies and how these relate to the consumer’s DNA from just $9.99 a month. Consumer engagement is a key factor in supporting customers to gain a better understanding of their data and how it can help themselves and the wider genomic research community.
Additionally, with data privacy being a key concern for all players in the market, Nebula are differentiating their service by giving customers more control over the sharing of their data. Generally, customers of genetic tests have two options for sharing their data for research: permission to share anonymized data with research partners, or not to share the data at all. Nebula offers both of these, as well as the option to receive separate consent requests every time a research partner wants to access their data.
However, concerns over the implications of their data and the actionability for their health remains an issue for the public. It is likely that as the understanding of genetics evolves, particularly in the primary healthcare setting, more consumers will walk away from these tests with useful information on how to manage their health and inform future decisions.
In the meantime, the paradigm of consumer genomics is shifting towards providing more comprehensive tests, meaning whole-genome sequencing could soon overtake the limited genetic tests that currently dominate the market.