Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A new exome sequencing and interpretation service from Belgian company Gentle Labs

While the spotlight has been very much on 23andMe and the FDA this last week the launch of a new high-end genomics service has attracted little attention. Gentle Labs is a new company based in Belgium. They are offering an exome sequencing service with interpretation for $1990. The results are provided through a doctor. This is from their FAQs:
Why would I pay $1990 if I can get my DNA sequenced for $99?        Some companies are offering 'insights into your DNA' for only $99. These tests, however, are only based on 0.03% of your genome (corresponding with 1.9 % of your genes). It's like reading a novel by reading a letter on every page: you won't get much of the story. These cheaper tests do not allow for accurate or complete results or interpretation: some of these tests have false negative rates of 50% or more! In fact, companies offering these tests admit this themselves. One company clearly displays on their website that "The information on this page is intended for research and educational purposes only, and is not for diagnostic use." In other words: these tests should not be relied on for any medical purposes, nor for diagnostic use.
        In contrast, our Gentle test not only offers complete coverage of all your genes, it also includes counseling with some of the world's best medical geneticists provided by Royal Doctors. Other advantages include:
        *       a free subscription service through which we will keep you informed about your DNA as science evolves
        *       free DNA data storage (so that you can provide your medical doctors access to your DNA data in case of a health issue or emergency)
        *       user friendly iPad and web apps to explore your genetic results and - in the end - yourself
The Royal Doctors have no connection with royalty but offer a network of doctors who will provide advice for a fee of one Euro per day. Their website can be found at www.royaldoctors.com 

Dr. Bertalan Meskó, who writes the Science Roll blog, has signed up for the Gentle service and has published an interview with Peter Schols, the CEO of Gentle Labs, which can be found here.

The launch of Gentle Labs was covered by GenomeWeb but the story is behind a paywall.

Interestingly 23andMe launched their own exome sequencing pilot programme back in 2011. Exome sequencing is the logical next step for personal genomics tests but the costs are still prohibitively high for the average consumer. It will be interesting to see what transpires in the next five years.

© Debbie Kennett

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