The color seeks to add a new test to its line of genetic tests, this time focusing on hereditary factors that may affect the chances of being prone to cardiovascular complications like arrhythmia and the cardiomyopathy.
Called a heart health test, Color’s new test aims to isolate genes that may be partially responsible for heart problems that may have a hereditary component. The color indicates that the test analyzes 30 genes that contribute to the structure and rhythm of a healthy heart to determine whether there might be hereditary factors that could lead to heart complications down the line . VP Clinical Operations Scott Topper acknowledged that hereditary factors are certainly not the only factors that could play in cardiovascular complications such as arrhythmia, but there has been enough research to show that the potential genetic hereditary components that lead to these conditions are quite powerful to justify the construction of a test for these markers.
“Some of these conditions are relatively rare, and for most of them, we expect the actual impact to be about 1 in 200,” Topper said. “But what that means is that if we treat 1,000 people this week, we expect 5 of them to be affected by that.” For these 5, the consequences of this Detection can be as extreme as sudden death.Although they are rare, they have an incredible impact.This is not a 100% predictor – For BRCA for example, we know that a a woman who has a BRCA mutation has about 80% chance of having breast cancer during her life and repeating herself over and over again.This is not 100% but it is a fairly deep probability that many people decide to act. “
The color seems to target genes that the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics has identified as having high impact and action. The end product is to see, if there is a mutation in any of these genes, there may be a possibility that the person presents a higher risk of cardiovascular problems such as cardiomyopathy or stroke. ; arrhythmia. There is no total penetrance – just as there is none in the BRCA test – so it’s more of a heads up situation, go ahead. , check in case. ”
Color, formerly Color Genomics, is one of the few well-funded genetic testing start-ups that aims to help consumers test for potential complications. In the case of this test, the goal is to report any potential risk and then follow up with clinicians to determine if there are any lifestyle changes that need to occur. Consumers take a saliva sample and send the test – either for a few hundred dollars or through a program that some employers put in place. Color raised $ 80 million during a funding round last August.
The last part of the question, employers who will publish these tests for their employees, will become increasingly important for Color. Early detection of diseases helps reduce the overall cost to employers before other problems occur. While Color is largely focused on the cancer space with tests to detect the genes associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, it has begun to embark on tests for potential cardiovascular problems like hypercholesterolemia. This test, launched last August, costs $ 249 for a direct purchase for a consumer.
Of course, the average customer abandons their genetic data in order to be tested for these potential hereditary conditions, a password that you will (probably) never be able to change. As more and more of these tests become available, there is a good chance that they will attract a new customer segment – those seeking to avoid complications based on what has happened to family members, or even those who are curious about whether they have no risk. According to Mr. Topper, many of them come from tech backgrounds from companies such as Google, Twitter and Dropbox, and that’s something that is still at the top of the list. (Although, to be sure, it is a very big order.)
“We have made a lot of effort on the computer back-end side to make sure our systems are highly developed and robust,” Topper said. “It’s not something that’s getting easy, I think a lot of health companies are coming back on this point and realize after the fact that there’s an important aspect of computer engineering in the capacity to do this responsibly “
There is still a lot of activity in this space, including at the actual funding level. 23andMe, another genetic testing start-up, raised $ 250 million in new funding last year. And as research matures, there is always the possibility that other companies will want to look to a similar field – finding points that might represent some risk for heart disease. Topper said the company is still waiting to continue to look for examples where the disease affects a lot of people and that one part is motivated by genetics, and that many players in the space are going to generally be a good thing simply because it will help advance progress on this front.
“We are having good times for genetics, mainly because of a number of really important consensual efforts around the clinical validity and clinical utility of the information genetics, “he said. “None of this is happening in a silo, being able to both advance the field in terms of providing information and glean knowledge, while being a good citizen in a rapidly evolving space, both are very important to us.I have the impression that there is a cultural shift regarding the integration of genetics in our society. that other companies do it responsibly, it’s also good. “