San Francisco (California), in a former industrial building converted into a temple of the genetic high-tech, the samples come in simple envelopes, FedEx. Technicians in white lab coats and blue gloves the unpack the string, their work is punctuated by the “beep” of the barcode scanners. Once identified, the tubes are aligned in rows of small lockers are colorful and they are made fresh in large refrigerated cupboards. In a few days, the DNA extracted from these few millilitres of blood or saliva will have delivered its secrets.
By 2017, about 150 000 samples were shipped at Invitae, one of the many start-up surfing on the wave of genetic testing. This figure is expected to almost double this year, because of the enthusiasm of the parents-to-be won over by the promise of a perfect baby.
Estimated at $ 2 billion (1.7 billion euros) in the United States, sales of prenatal genetic testing are expected to leap by 10% per year by 2021. The sides of Invitae, a dozen start-ups (Natera, Counsyl, and Verinata…) are parties to conquer that market. Lots of marketing, these laboratories are marketing tests to assess the risk for a couple in good health to give birth to a sick child, or to select embryos during in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
With the spectacular advances of sequencing technologies, the futuristic universe of Gattaca – a movie in 1997 which sets the scene of the human genome is flawless – no longer seems so far away. Read the 3 billion “letters” (A, T, C, G) that make up a human genome costs less than $ 1000 (850 euro), compared to $ 1 million ten years ago. And a few hundred dollars is enough today for a targeted analysis of genes.
“The Amazon of genetic testing ”
Invitae, which aims to become ” the Amazon of genetic testing “,…