By Vicki Little
After Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy because of her genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancers, she told the New York Times: “It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live.” It turns out that Elad Gil and Othman Laraki may have already been working on plans to do just that. With a blended team of geneticists and computer techs, they have mixed together the advances in lab automation, software, and biology to make genetic screening affordable for all women.
Gil and Laraki, investors and entrepreneurs who are most recently known for selling their start-up company Mixed Labs to Twitter, have teamed up again in the race for testing and screening of breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations. Their company, Color Genomics or Color, can now provide genetic screening for 19 of these gene mutations. The genes tested include the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The BRCA gene mutations are very rare, but when they do happen, they are very strongly associated with breast and ovarian cancers.
With or without insurance, the test will be available to all women — even those who can’t afford the lower rate — through their Every Woman program. Color charges only $249 for the testing, and they also provide genetic counseling with a physician. 23andMe, another company that did something similar, was shut down in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration because they did not have a doctor analyze the results. To prevent this from happening to them, Color has hired physicians to order and analyze the test results.
Color isn’t the only one with good news to share. LapCorp and Quest Diagnostics have announced that they are teaming up with French researchers to combine all their data about breast cancer risk genes (BRCA1 AND BRCA2) to get more thorough interpretations of the mutation. The group, called BRCA Share, is inviting other companies and laboratories to join their efforts. The more the better!
The whole process is a collaborative effort of many different fields, and all of the different data will increase the pool of knowledge that geneticists have access to.
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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