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23andMe Upgrades to Higher-Density Array, Offers Detailed Analysis of Rx Response, Disease Risk


By Turna Ray

Enabled by a new genotyping array, direct-to-consumer genomics firm 23andMe is growing its analysis capabilities by 400,000 SNPs, and is moving toward providing more in-depth analysis of customers' predisposition for disease and likelihood of response to various drugs.

The firm announced this week that it is upgrading from Illumina's HumanHap550 chip, which tested around 600,000 SNPs, to Illumina's HumanOmniExpress, which gauges around 1 million SNPs.

With the new platform, the company is hoping to provide greater coverage of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters, and analyze additional genes associated with drug response. However, while the HumanOmniExpress will provide more in-depth genotyping capabilities, the extent to which 23andMe will be able to improve customers' pharmacogenomics-related data is contingent on the clinical validity of genomic discoveries.

"The new platform increases the number of SNPs related to DMET that will be tested, but until we've been able to analyze a statistically relevant amount of data and validate it, we won't know which specific reports might be improved or which specific new reports we may be able to provide," a company spokesperson told PGx Reporter via e-mail. "In general, we expect to be able to offer our customers enhanced and/or new reporting within about six months."

Additionally, by transitioning to the new array, the company said it would be able to increase coverage of genetic markers linked to Mendelian diseases, such as Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis, as well offer deeper analysis of the human leukocyte antigen region, which is implicated in various autoimmune diseases.

In terms of analytic validity, the new array platform "remains extremely accurate and is consistent with the previous chip," the spokesperson added. "The call rate and reproducibility will remain the same." The HumanHap550 chip has a 99 percent call rate and 99.9 percent reproducibility.

23andMe's Personal Genome Service will migrate to the new platform on Nov. 24. Customers who buy a personal genome scan on this day and after will have their DNA genotyped on the new version of the array. "The upgrade to the third version of our chip will not impact pricing," the spokesperson said.

Separately however, 23andMe recently changed its pricing model. Effective Nov. 22, the DTC genomics firm retired its differential pricing structure for its Ancestry Edition and Health Edition products, and moved to a yearly subscription-based service.

23andMe now charges $499 to provide for one year its range of services gauging the genetic basis for drug response, disease predisposition, and ancestry. After the initial year, there is a $5 monthly charge.

Previously, the price of the full gene scan, including analysis of ancestry and health conditions, was at $499. The cost of just the ancestry analysis was $399, while the Health Edition package, including genomic analysis of disease predisposition and drug response, was priced at $429.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in Pharmacogenomics Reporter? Contact the editor at tray [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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