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Greatest Genotyper on Earth


Before Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jim Clark [see p.35] mentioned his newest investment to the media this summer, few outside the venture capital community knew that Kiva Genetics had (a) raised $75 million, (b) changed its name to DNA Sciences, and (c) staked out the cyber spot But two days after its August 1 “hard launch” (Clark’s announcement in mid-July was the “soft launch”), DNA Sciences was “overwhelmed” by hits to its website by “ordinary citizens,” according to CEO Hugh Rienhoff.

The hook? DNA Sciences wants to help regular folks make a difference to medical science. The company seeks tens of thousands of volunteers to submit DNA samples to which it will apply what Rienhoff calls the “largest genotyping capacity on earth” to identify SNPs. Profits will come from selling the resulting data.

By year’s end DNA Sciences will occupy a 64,000-square-foot building and process 100,000 genotypes a day on a 24/7 schedule. Ultimately, the facility will churn out 1 million genotypes per day, Rienhoff claims.

The technology? DNA Sciences’ own “next generation genotyping microchannel device,” a farm of modified Amersham Pharmacia Biotech MegaBace sequencing machines, and proprietary software that tracks and integrates anonymous samples, electropherograms, and accounting data.

And if the plan doesn’t work out, there’s a backup. Rienhoff says the company is also seeking a partner to commercialize the microchannel device.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.