|J. Craig Venter|
J. Craig Venter has unveiled the scope of the Health Nucleus testing service being offered by Human Longevity Inc. For $50,000, HLI will perform a battery of sequencing, imaging and laboratory tests to build a picture of the health of an individual--while also adding a wealth of information to its burgeoning database.
The service puts HLI at the very top of the premium end of the markets for genetic testing and health checkups. While 23andMe is offering relatively basic genetic testing for $99 and Lee Hood's Arivale is pitching a little higher with its $2,000-a-year service, people will need to cough up at least $25,000 to get through the door at Health Nucleus. The fee rises to $50,000 for the most comprehensive set of tests and analysis services offered by HLI. In exchange, customers will have their whole genomes and microbiomes sequenced, plus undergo a full-body MRI scan and metabolome characterization.
"Putting all this data together is a unique experiment," Venter told KPBS. "We're going to find out what works, what's really predictive." The test regimen offered by Health Nucleus is uniquely comprehensive and advanced. But, as with any new approach, it is unclear to what extent the knowledge gained through the testing will translate into improved long-term health. Venter is bullish about the concept, though, and thinks the experience of the first handful of people tested by Health Nucleus support his stance. "We found life-saving information for one of them," he said.
The delivery of such insights to customers is one part of what HLI is trying to achieve through the Health Nucleus program, which is set to expand to locations beyond San Diego, CA, next year. The other objective is to gather more data. Like a supersized 23andMe, HLI is using the consumer testing service as another source of information for the database that is central to its long-term goals. "Our goal here is to build out the world's most important database for the human genome," Venter told Xconomy.
From the start, HLI has eschewed isolated sequencing data in favor of genomes that are paired to phenotypes and a multitude of other pieces of information. The breadth of the testing service being offered through Health Nucleus is a manifestation of this belief in the power of pairing sequencing data with other pieces of health information.