Invitae and Helix team up for health and wellness genetic testing apps


Invitae ($NVTA) is teaming up with personal genomics outfit Helix to make genetic testing apps for health and wellness.

The apps, which combine Helix’s DNA sequencing platform and Invitae’s tests, will show healthy individuals whether they’re at risk for developing common diseases. The initial apps will focus on genes associated with inherited forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease, Invitae said in a statement.

Invitae and Helix will launch the first apps in 2017. The companies also plan to roll out additional apps in the future, the pair said.

“Our goal is to provide healthy individuals and their clinicians with a more proactive approach by making common, actionable genetic tests more accessible,” Invitae CEO Randy Scott said in a statement. “Historically genetic testing has only been available for high risk or symptomatic patients. With the Helix platform we can now provide low cost genetic ‘health scans’ for healthy individuals with the power to introduce more preventive health measures in advance of disease diagnosis.”

Cutting costs has been a priority for Invitae. In 2015, the San Francisco-based company said that it would slash prices for its genetic tests. Payers with contracts with the company pay $950 for the tools. Patients without third-party insurance pay $475 for the tests as long as there’s a physician’s order ahead of time.

"One of our goals is to make genetic testing more affordable and accessible to billions of people, and this new pricing strategy enables us to leverage the progress we've made and convert that into savings for patients and the healthcare system," Scott said when the new pricing was announced in June 2015.

Invitae has also been working on beefing up its testing services. The company is investing in “providing professional support for ordering physicians with regard to gene selection, interpretation of results, and genetic counseling support for families,” Scott told FierceMedicalDevices in August.

Invitae’s latest pact with Helix reflects this commitment. Doctors have to finalize their order for the app before Invitae delivers a health report. The company will also offer genetic counseling to patients using Helix apps.