Yesterday morning Helix, an early player in the consumer genomics field, announced the launch of its DNA Product Studio. The tool aims to boost the development of new genomics apps and tests for Helix’s partners.
Helix’s model uses third party partners that are experts in a specific arena to develop products. Meanwhile Helix provides sample collection, DNA sequencing, and secures data that the partners can integrate with.
“These tools will allow partners to better focus on their strength, whether that’s genomics expertise for our health partners who may not have product teams, or great product experiences for consumer partners who don’t have in-house science teams or a CLIA-CAP accredited laboratory,” Justin Kao, cofounder, SVP of business development and partnerships, wrote to MobiHealthNews in an email. “For others, who may lack sizable teams in both areas, we're excited to offer a new suite of building blocks that will allow them to launch great DNA products quickly, supported by our policy, applied genomics, and bioinformatics teams.”
The new technology will include an Ancestry API, where partners can access ancestry for six global populations. Also included in the studio is a Genomics API that will give partners the ability to tap into a plethora of genomic data including 100 million base pairs, indels and copy variants, according to the company. Partners can also access embedded apps, where they have the ability to launch a site on Helix’s platform without coding, and an Insight API with a library of results of genetic traits or conditions.
The company said the new tool will make it easier for partners to onboard, eventually leading to more products.
“DNA Product Studio removes a lot of the typical barriers of bringing DNA-powered products to market for a consumer audience. For consumer partners, many don’t realize or don’t know how to begin to introduce genomic insights into existing products, or create new ones relevant to their markets. Now we’ve created a straightforward path to do so,” Kao wrote. “Additionally, for labs with existing clinical tests, they can easily deploy light-weight versions for a national audience of consumers with the support of third party physician oversight and genetic counselling.”
The idea is that the platform could also open the doors to more potential partners that have not yet entered the space but have expertise in areas that could interest users.
“On the consumer side, I think there’s a wide range of household-name brands, who want to engage in this movement where tens of millions of their customers want to better understand their DNA,” Chris Glode, chief product officer at Helix, wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews. “It’s a bit like the early days of smartphones, where brands knew they had to meet their customers on their mobile apps, but weren’t really sure where to start, what to offer, and lacked the expertise to build in house. In that way, DNA Product Studio will allow a much wider range of brands to engage their users through the personalized lens of DNA.”
While Helix was one of the early companies in the space it has continued to grow. In March it announced a $200 million funding round, which it said was to expand its personal genomics marketplace and to accelerate consumer adoption of genomics.
More recently, the genomics company announced a new partnership with MyVytalics, a company that focuses on healthy aging, to launch a new personal genomics app that will look at how genes play into sleep patterns and nutrition.