NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Direct-to-consumer genomics services firm 23andMe has dramatically slashed the price for its service and expanded its offerings to include a lineage tracing service through a partnership with Ancestry.com.
The nearly one year-old startup said in a statement today that by cutting the price for its genotyping service from $999 to $399 it is “democratizing personal genetics and expanding the opportunity for more people to benefit from the genetic revolution.”
The company said advances made to Illumina’s genotyping technology, specifically the introduction of the HumanHap550-Quad+ BeadChip, made the price cut possible. Illumina is the provider of genotyping tools for 23andMe’s services.
23andMe also said that beyond the new ancestry service it has added improved custom content to the BeadChip to include more SNP variations and rare mutations.
“By taking advantage of continuing innovation we are able to introduce a new chip that will give people more relevant data at a lower price,” 23andMe Co-founder Anne Wojcicki said in a statement.
In addition to technological advances, there has been speculation from industry observers that the crop of new DTC genomics service providers, such as 23andMe, Navigenics, and DeCode Genetics, may be facing price pressure from an ongoing research initiative undertaken by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research earlier this year.
Coriell is trying to recruit 100,000 volunteers — 10,000 by the end of 2009 — to provide DNA through a saliva sample for a similar, but free, service as those being offered by the commercial firms. The Camden, NJ-based institute plans to use the information in a research study exploring the utility of using genomic information in clinical decision making.
The company said the ancestry analysis service it will provide through the Ancestry.com partnership “allows users to trace their genetic lineage and discover the role that their ancestral origins have played in human history.”
Ancestry.com’s DNA database contains over 7 billion names in 26,000 databases, and it includes more than 7 million user-submitted family trees, which enables customers to “trace their roots and connect with distant cousins,” 23andMe said.