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23andMe ( https://www.23andme.com ) DNA testing company going public through SPAC.

 

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1804591/000095010321001779/dp145636_ex9901.htm

 

23andMe, Inc., a leading consumer genetics and research company, and VG Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: VGAC), a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Virgin Group, announced today that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. Upon completion of the transaction, estimated in the second calendar quarter of 2021, VGAC will change its New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ticker symbol, and the combined company’s securities will trade under the ticker symbol “ME”.

 

IMO it's an interesting company in an interesting space. They have some issues with revenue. They have tons of genetic data.

 

Just FYI.

 

Disclaimer: I have done DNA test(s) through 23andMe and I have filled out way too many of their questionnaires in the name of science . They say I'm in the top 1% of their customers in terms of info provided.  ::) I may hold shares or warrants in VGAC and ME when it's renamed. Do your own DD.  8)

 

 

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Numbers looks iffy. Revenues are going to be cut in half. Pivot to therapeutics.

 

Interesting enough, they just raised $82.5M in December last year in a small round let by Sequoia, but we don’t know the implied valuation for this round. I suspect it was a down round. Implied valuations  could find all over the place from $1.5B, $2.5B and $3B... take your pick, so a SPAC deal for $3.5B and presumably a nice pop post IPO sounds about right.

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Numbers looks iffy. Revenues are going to be cut in half. Pivot to therapeutics.

 

Edit: I think Spek is referring to this:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1804591/000095010321001779/dp145636_ex9902.htm

 

.................

 

Yeah, the DNA testing revenues is not why you would buy this. $199 or $99 a non-repeatable pop does not multibillion business make. The value is in the genetic info library they collect. If I was them (or another DNA testing startup I have looked at), I'd do the tests for free and capitalize on the data. So there's no "pivot to therapeutics" - genetic info use for therapeutics IS the only business that makes sense.

 

Not saying that it's cheap here.

 

The right question to ask though is what that genetic info store worth for the right applications.

 

Edit: I see they are also planning to sell subscriptions. This might be OK revenue source too although I wonder what exactly they plan to deliver via subscription. Right now as a customer I'd be annoyed if they subscription-gated my reports.

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Numbers looks iffy. Revenues are going to be cut in half. Pivot to therapeutics.

 

Edit: I think Spek is referring to this:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1804591/000095010321001779/dp145636_ex9902.htm

 

.................

 

Yeah, the DNA testing revenues is not why you would buy this. $199 or $99 a non-repeatable pop does not multibillion business make. The value is in the genetic info library they collect. If I was them (or another DNA testing startup I have looked at), I'd do the tests for free and capitalize on the data. So there's no "pivot to therapeutics" - genetic info use for therapeutics IS the only business that makes sense.

 

Not saying that it's cheap here.

 

The right question to ask though is what that genetic info store worth for the right applications.

 

 

Interesting enough, this is exactly what DeCode Genetics (and Iceland company that used to trade on the Nasdaq) tried to do ~20 years ago and they failed back then. Decode is mentioned in 23andme filings. They still exist and I have seen them being mentioned a couple of times as it relates to fighting COVID-19 in a Iceland. i think their business model didn’t work out and they went private years later.

 

Perhaps the same business model works better now ~20 years later but developing drugs is expensive and takes a long time.

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The value is in the genetic info library they collect.

 

I am not so sure of this. Collecting genetic data from general population without proper study design is not as much value other than serving as a data for mining in early research setting for pharma/biotech. That is a mature market with very limited TAM for their kind of data (Target Discovery on Pg 25 from the sec doc above).  The only sample they get as per my understanding is saliva which is of limited value as you can get only germline information (genetic information passed by heredity). This type of germline information has limited explanatory power in most diseases other than rare genetic diseases. Furthermore, you cannot ask a followup question on this data because the sample is not there anymore most of the time or is not appropriate for the disease area. As opposed to germline information, somatic mutations happen all through the life of human being starting accumulation all the way after conception during embryo development. They can also be organ / tissue specific. This data is not captured in such saliva based tests from 23andme.

 

The real value of the data happens in translational science setting where they are allowed to use the leftover samples (blood, marrow, biopsy, etc) collected in clinical trials on disease subjects and matched healthy controls. These samples are valuable because they by definition have matching controls for things like age, gender, and other related traits in the disease area. Now you can run genetic test on these samples and get much more informative and comparative data and effect of genes for your therapeutic development. You can even do new experiments for example on blood or biopsy collected from patients and healthy by treating the blood sample with drugs and measuring the effect.

 

My thinking is they will have to pivot completely to therapeutics to maintain their value. No idea if 3.5 billion is a good value for their current business model.

 

Lastly, other than decode genetics, another interesting comparator to 23andme is color genomics (now just color inc - https://www.color.com/). They brought a cheap genetic test to market (even cheaper originally than 23andme if I am not mistaken) to collect such data. But they could not make a business model out of the data they collected. So now they are "diversifying" into other areas like health information systems, lab tests etc.

 

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The value is in the genetic info library they collect.

 

I am not so sure of this. Collecting genetic data from general population without proper study design is not as much value other than serving as a data for mining in early research setting for pharma/biotech. That is a mature market with very limited TAM for their kind of data (Target Discovery on Pg 25 from the sec doc above).  The only sample they get as per my understanding is saliva which is of limited value as you can get only germline information (genetic information passed by heredity). This type of germline information has limited explanatory power in most diseases other than rare genetic diseases. Furthermore, you cannot ask a followup question on this data because the sample is not there anymore most of the time or is not appropriate for the disease area. As opposed to germline information, somatic mutations happen all through the life of human being starting accumulation all the way after conception during embryo development. They can also be organ / tissue specific. This data is not captured in such saliva based tests from 23andme.

 

The real value of the data happens in translational science setting where they are allowed to use the leftover samples (blood, marrow, biopsy, etc) collected in clinical trials on disease subjects and matched healthy controls. These samples are valuable because they by definition have matching controls for things like age, gender, and other related traits in the disease area. Now you can run genetic test on these samples and get much more informative and comparative data and effect of genes for your therapeutic development. You can even do new experiments for example on blood or biopsy collected from patients and healthy by treating the blood sample with drugs and measuring the effect.

 

My thinking is they will have to pivot completely to therapeutics to maintain their value. No idea if 3.5 billion is a good value for their current business model.

 

Lastly, other than decode genetics, another interesting comparator to 23andme is color genomics (now just color inc - https://www.color.com/). They brought a cheap genetic test to market (even cheaper originally than 23andme if I am not mistaken) to collect such data. But they could not make a business model out of the data they collected. So now they are "diversifying" into other areas like health information systems, lab tests etc.

 

Not an expert here but I can confirm that they sequence only a small percentage of the genome.  That being said the full tests aren’t super expensive I think (could be wrong) and they should pivot to sequencing the whole genome or at least the important parts for protein creation.  Jurgis or whomever, is that what you think they are thinking of doing based on press? 

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The value is in the genetic info library they collect.

 

I am not so sure of this. Collecting genetic data from general population without proper study design is not as much value other than serving as a data for mining in early research setting for pharma/biotech. That is a mature market with very limited TAM for their kind of data (Target Discovery on Pg 25 from the sec doc above).  The only sample they get as per my understanding is saliva which is of limited value as you can get only germline information (genetic information passed by heredity). This type of germline information has limited explanatory power in most diseases other than rare genetic diseases. Furthermore, you cannot ask a followup question on this data because the sample is not there anymore most of the time or is not appropriate for the disease area. As opposed to germline information, somatic mutations happen all through the life of human being starting accumulation all the way after conception during embryo development. They can also be organ / tissue specific. This data is not captured in such saliva based tests from 23andme.

 

The real value of the data happens in translational science setting where they are allowed to use the leftover samples (blood, marrow, biopsy, etc) collected in clinical trials on disease subjects and matched healthy controls. These samples are valuable because they by definition have matching controls for things like age, gender, and other related traits in the disease area. Now you can run genetic test on these samples and get much more informative and comparative data and effect of genes for your therapeutic development. You can even do new experiments for example on blood or biopsy collected from patients and healthy by treating the blood sample with drugs and measuring the effect.

 

My thinking is they will have to pivot completely to therapeutics to maintain their value. No idea if 3.5 billion is a good value for their current business model.

 

Lastly, other than decode genetics, another interesting comparator to 23andme is color genomics (now just color inc - https://www.color.com/). They brought a cheap genetic test to market (even cheaper originally than 23andme if I am not mistaken) to collect such data. But they could not make a business model out of the data they collected. So now they are "diversifying" into other areas like health information systems, lab tests etc.

 

Not an expert here but I can confirm that they sequence only a small percentage of the genome.  That being said the full tests aren’t super expensive I think (could be wrong) and they should pivot to sequencing the whole genome or at least the important parts for protein creation.  Jurgis or whomever, is that what you think they are thinking of doing based on press?

 

Yes, they can pivot to sequencing the whole genome, but that’s way more expensive and it also means that they basically need to start from scratch.

That said, I think the stock will sell well. 23andme is a well known “brand name”, CEO has Google association, well known SPAC sponsor. This should be enough for a pop, but it’s probably something you want to rent rather than own.

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To Spek ^^ I looked it up and exome sequencing (protein generating regions of dna) only costs 500 usd maybe optimistically.  I mean it’s way more expensive than a 23 and me test but not out of the realm of possibility as something someone subsidizes.  But all this is still quite theoretical. 

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To Spek ^^ I looked it up and exome sequencing (protein generating regions of dna) only costs 500 usd maybe optimistically.  I mean it’s way more expensive than a 23 and me test but not out of the realm of possibility as something someone subsidizes.  But all this is still quite theoretical.

 

Sounds about right and the cost is coming down to over time, but what advantage does 23andme exactly have here? They would need to start from scratch just like everyone else.

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Guest cherzeca

I took the test and found valuable information regarding my genetic legacy. but it seems way too unrigorous scientifically...plus I am not sure how Me uses it data in terms of privacy...it sends me follow up emails for information that are based upon my info Me has collected so far...turned me off from further use. this is very much the case of a company where you are the product, your info is for their use and monetization. so beyond the initial value add of providing info that your grandma never told you, the company seems to be limited in use value and TAM

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To Spek ^^ I looked it up and exome sequencing (protein generating regions of dna) only costs 500 usd maybe optimistically.  I mean it’s way more expensive than a 23 and me test but not out of the realm of possibility as something someone subsidizes.  But all this is still quite theoretical.

 

Sounds about right and the cost is coming down to over time, but what advantage does 23andme exactly have here? They would need to start from scratch just like everyone else.

 

All this is speculative so I’m not sure what the value add is, but I’m guessing way more people trust 23 and me to do a full dna health panel, than some other brand.  I feel like they should add (or maybe they have) a full exome dna screening for health.  I think they can leverage there brand well enough such that people would care.  It’s also one of those businesses where one company has the entire data base it’s not like it’s economic for someone to duplicate.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Numbers looks iffy. Revenues are going to be cut in half. Pivot to therapeutics.

 

Edit: I think Spek is referring to this:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1804591/000095010321001779/dp145636_ex9902.htm

 

.................

 

Yeah, the DNA testing revenues is not why you would buy this. $199 or $99 a non-repeatable pop does not multibillion business make. The value is in the genetic info library they collect. If I was them (or another DNA testing startup I have looked at), I'd do the tests for free and capitalize on the data. S

 

In tech companies data has huge potential. One thing I've learned is that it is much easier to talk about owining the data vs. monetizing it. If there is a clarity that demonstrated the value proposition to the purchaser of future data, then it could be very interesting.

 

Many have died on the hill of "owning the data" -and a few have become huge - eg Amazon and it's "eyeballs" metrics decades ago.

 

23 & me is the dominant player in a space with momentum. Without having done a deeper dive, I'm not sure of their moat.

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All this is speculative so I’m not sure what the value add is, but I’m guessing way more people trust 23 and me to do a full dna health panel, than some other brand.  I feel like they should add (or maybe they have) a full exome dna screening for health.  I think they can leverage there brand well enough such that people would care.  It’s also one of those businesses where one company has the entire data base it’s not like it’s economic for someone to duplicate.

 

There is not much value in full dna or exome health panel for general population. In-fact, one could argue its negative value. I will do a thought experiment here. Let's make reasonable assumption that a fraction of US adult population falls under "worried well" category - people who subscribe to certain diet plans (weight watchers - WW) or buy multi-vitamins / protein shakes (GNC) to improve their health or feel better. There is a market for that. Here is the catch though. For a given person trying out these things these are almost always positive benefits (in best case) or no benefit (in worst case) situation.

 

Now think about people going and getting entire exome/ dna sequenced. What kind of information will they get? They will almost always get information that is reflecting of mutations in their dna/genes. So what is the significance of this information? In overwhelming cases the answer is we don't know. In a very small subset of cases it has highly negative feeling, even though the clinical consequences may be nothing (e.g: say there is a mutation in the gene BRCA implicated in breast cancer - the science suggests that most of the mutations in that gene are harmless and only some are meaningful and even then they increase your risk from say 0.1% to 1% or something like that). There is almost no situation I know of where such information is positive (e.g: it is impossible to say - you will live for 120 years or you will be resistant to Alzheimer for a set of mutations)

 

So now we have a product that does not give out feel good information in any case, mostly gives out information that even doctors/scientists don't know what the significance is and in worst case makes people unnecessarily worried or does harm. Imagine someone acting on a false positive BRCA information and getting mastectomy. That is not a consumer product. It is a diagnostic test that is carefully administered in the presence of other information such as family history of a disease or clinical symptoms. That is why FDA closely monitors such products and in the past a cease / desist letter to 23andMe long time back (https://law.stanford.edu/2013/11/25/lawandbiosciences-2013-11-25-the-fda-drops-an-anvil-on-23andme-now-what/)

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All this is speculative so I’m not sure what the value add is, but I’m guessing way more people trust 23 and me to do a full dna health panel, than some other brand.  I feel like they should add (or maybe they have) a full exome dna screening for health.  I think they can leverage there brand well enough such that people would care.  It’s also one of those businesses where one company has the entire data base it’s not like it’s economic for someone to duplicate.

 

There is not much value in full dna or exome health panel for general population. In-fact, one could argue its negative value. I will do a thought experiment here. Let's make reasonable assumption that a fraction of US adult population falls under "worried well" category - people who subscribe to certain diet plans (weight watchers - WW) or buy multi-vitamins / protein shakes (GNC) to improve their health or feel better. There is a market for that. Here is the catch though. For a given person trying out these things these are almost always positive benefits (in best case) or no benefit (in worst case) situation.

 

Now think about people going and getting entire exome/ dna sequenced. What kind of information will they get? They will almost always get information that is reflecting of mutations in their dna/genes. So what is the significance of this information? In overwhelming cases the answer is we don't know. In a very small subset of cases it has highly negative feeling, even though the clinical consequences may be nothing (e.g: say there is a mutation in the gene BRCA implicated in breast cancer - the science suggests that most of the mutations in that gene are harmless and only some are meaningful and even then they increase your risk from say 0.1% to 1% or something like that). There is almost no situation I know of where such information is positive (e.g: it is impossible to say - you will live for 120 years or you will be resistant to Alzheimer for a set of mutations)

 

So now we have a product that does not give out feel good information in any case, mostly gives out information that even doctors/scientists don't know what the significance is and in worst case makes people unnecessarily worried or does harm. Imagine someone acting on a false positive BRCA information and getting mastectomy. That is not a consumer product. It is a diagnostic test that is carefully administered in the presence of other information such as family history of a disease or clinical symptoms. That is why FDA closely monitors such products and in the past a cease / desist letter to 23andMe long time back (https://law.stanford.edu/2013/11/25/lawandbiosciences-2013-11-25-the-fda-drops-an-anvil-on-23andme-now-what/)

 

Fair enough, but shouldn’t that be an argument for educating people in something like genetic literacy.  I get why it should be restricted at this point, but it would be somewhat beneficial (depending on costs) to know my entire exome sequence so when new research comes out I don’t have to get another part of my dna sequenced if I’m worried about that.  Moving further in the realm of what the FDA is worried about but also something educated people could benefit from, you can send people (or maybe just their doctors) updates when certain sequences come up in research. Could that result in people doing something stupid? Yeah.  But would it be helpful for people that know what they are doing?  Hugely. 

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All this is speculative so I’m not sure what the value add is, but I’m guessing way more people trust 23 and me to do a full dna health panel, than some other brand.  I feel like they should add (or maybe they have) a full exome dna screening for health.  I think they can leverage there brand well enough such that people would care.  It’s also one of those businesses where one company has the entire data base it’s not like it’s economic for someone to duplicate.

 

There is not much value in full dna or exome health panel for general population. In-fact, one could argue its negative value. I will do a thought experiment here. Let's make reasonable assumption that a fraction of US adult population falls under "worried well" category - people who subscribe to certain diet plans (weight watchers - WW) or buy multi-vitamins / protein shakes (GNC) to improve their health or feel better. There is a market for that. Here is the catch though. For a given person trying out these things these are almost always positive benefits (in best case) or no benefit (in worst case) situation.

 

Now think about people going and getting entire exome/ dna sequenced. What kind of information will they get? They will almost always get information that is reflecting of mutations in their dna/genes. So what is the significance of this information? In overwhelming cases the answer is we don't know. In a very small subset of cases it has highly negative feeling, even though the clinical consequences may be nothing (e.g: say there is a mutation in the gene BRCA implicated in breast cancer - the science suggests that most of the mutations in that gene are harmless and only some are meaningful and even then they increase your risk from say 0.1% to 1% or something like that). There is almost no situation I know of where such information is positive (e.g: it is impossible to say - you will live for 120 years or you will be resistant to Alzheimer for a set of mutations)

 

So now we have a product that does not give out feel good information in any case, mostly gives out information that even doctors/scientists don't know what the significance is and in worst case makes people unnecessarily worried or does harm. Imagine someone acting on a false positive BRCA information and getting mastectomy. That is not a consumer product. It is a diagnostic test that is carefully administered in the presence of other information such as family history of a disease or clinical symptoms. That is why FDA closely monitors such products and in the past a cease / desist letter to 23andMe long time back (https://law.stanford.edu/2013/11/25/lawandbiosciences-2013-11-25-the-fda-drops-an-anvil-on-23andme-now-what/)

 

I agree with what you wrote mostly. :)

 

What do you think about the services that ActX provides: https://www.actx.com/ ( in essence checking prescriptions against genetic data for side effects / efficiency )? They claim to have pretty significant library of scientific data for various diseases/drugs/genetic data.

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What do you think about the services that ActX provides: https://www.actx.com/ ( in essence checking prescriptions against genetic data for side effects / efficiency )? They claim to have pretty significant library of scientific data for various diseases/drugs/genetic data.

 

I was not aware of this company and to be honest with you I am not sure what to make of the market, its potential, etc at this point. Thank you for bringing to my attention though, looks like very interesting. The founder is a doctor and they are using providers (doctors / health care institutions) as a way to get to the end customers - so using existing healthcare system. At this point I don't know of the dynamics of how all this will work within the existing system. I will do a diligence before I comment on it further. Actually I will be interested in your thoughts on this company. One thing that did catch my eye (in a positive way) while cursory browsing their website is the following -

 

https://www.actx.com/info/services

"Only actionable genetic conditions and medications are covered where there is evidence that there is something that you and your doctor can do"

 

https://www.actx.com/info/talk_to_your_doctor

"ActX is a screening service and not intended for the diagnosis of high risk patients. The Service looks only at selected variants (DNA variations) for the targeted genes and not for all possible genetic variants. The ActX Service is not intended for the diagnosis of patients at high risk of serious genetic conditions (such as a strong family history of breast cancer)."

 

 

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What do you think about the services that ActX provides: https://www.actx.com/ ( in essence checking prescriptions against genetic data for side effects / efficiency )? They claim to have pretty significant library of scientific data for various diseases/drugs/genetic data.

 

I was not aware of this company and to be honest with you I am not sure what to make of the market, its potential, etc at this point. Thank you for bringing to my attention though, looks like very interesting. The founder is a doctor and they are using providers (doctors / health care institutions) as a way to get to the end customers - so using existing healthcare system. At this point I don't know of the dynamics of how all this will work within the existing system. I will do a diligence before I comment on it further. Actually I will be interested in your thoughts on this company. One thing that did catch my eye (in a positive way) while cursory browsing their website is the following -

 

https://www.actx.com/info/services

"Only actionable genetic conditions and medications are covered where there is evidence that there is something that you and your doctor can do"

 

https://www.actx.com/info/talk_to_your_doctor

"ActX is a screening service and not intended for the diagnosis of high risk patients. The Service looks only at selected variants (DNA variations) for the targeted genes and not for all possible genetic variants. The ActX Service is not intended for the diagnosis of patients at high risk of serious genetic conditions (such as a strong family history of breast cancer)."

 

ActX is a private startup company. I have looked at it multiple times, but did not invest. Valuation was (is?) way way lower than 23andMe. They (mostly?) sell their service to medical centers at enterprise level. They have few customers. Big question is adoption/penetration speed. In a way they have the opposite issue than 23andMe: since they are selling to medical centers, the value of their service would be (way) higher if a lot of patients already had their genetic tests done, since then the doctors could check the risks without ordering a genetic test that costs money and takes time.

Now, they are piggybacking on 23andMe result data - i.e. patients apparently can import 23andMe data to be used for ActX services. There is still a chicken and egg issue somewhat since a patient can only see benefit if their doctor (or their doctor's organization) has purchased ActX or if the patient buys ActX and persuades their doctor to use it.

I don't know how useful the service is for doctors when patient has genetic info. ActX claims it is with some large percentage of patients having at least one or few common drug risks. I don't know if they have public info on percentages/drugs.

 

I can only talk about the information that ActX discloses on their website. If interested in more in depth info, PM me and I could introduce you to the company management.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don't have any financial interest in ActX at this time.

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What do you think about the services that ActX provides: https://www.actx.com/ ( in essence checking prescriptions against genetic data for side effects / efficiency )? They claim to have pretty significant library of scientific data for various diseases/drugs/genetic data.

 

I was not aware of this company and to be honest with you I am not sure what to make of the market, its potential, etc at this point. Thank you for bringing to my attention though, looks like very interesting. The founder is a doctor and they are using providers (doctors / health care institutions) as a way to get to the end customers - so using existing healthcare system. At this point I don't know of the dynamics of how all this will work within the existing system. I will do a diligence before I comment on it further. Actually I will be interested in your thoughts on this company. One thing that did catch my eye (in a positive way) while cursory browsing their website is the following -

 

https://www.actx.com/info/services

"Only actionable genetic conditions and medications are covered where there is evidence that there is something that you and your doctor can do"

 

https://www.actx.com/info/talk_to_your_doctor

"ActX is a screening service and not intended for the diagnosis of high risk patients. The Service looks only at selected variants (DNA variations) for the targeted genes and not for all possible genetic variants. The ActX Service is not intended for the diagnosis of patients at high risk of serious genetic conditions (such as a strong family history of breast cancer)."

 

ActX is a private startup company. I have looked at it multiple times, but did not invest. Valuation was (is?) way way lower than 23andMe. They (mostly?) sell their service to medical centers at enterprise level. They have few customers. Big question is adoption/penetration speed. In a way they have the opposite issue than 23andMe: since they are selling to medical centers, the value of their service would be (way) higher if a lot of patients already had their genetic tests done, since then the doctors could check the risks without ordering a genetic test that costs money and takes time.

Now, they are piggybacking on 23andMe result data - i.e. patients apparently can import 23andMe data to be used for ActX services. There is still a chicken and egg issue somewhat since a patient can only see benefit if their doctor (or their doctor's organization) has purchased ActX or if the patient buys ActX and persuades their doctor to use it.

I don't know how useful the service is for doctors when patient has genetic info. ActX claims it is with some large percentage of patients having at least one or few common drug risks. I don't know if they have public info on percentages/drugs.

 

I can only talk about the information that ActX discloses on their website. If interested in more in depth info, PM me and I could introduce you to the company management.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don't have any financial interest in ActX at this time.

 

From an investment point of view it becomes challenging when a company like ActX has to provide its own service AND also do the clinical validation required to  proove out the science. ActX seems to be taking genomic data and integrating into Electronic Health Record in order to alter the types of drugs prescribed. Intuitively, this seems like a great idea. However, the science linking genomic info to how one reacts to drugs has many caveats to it. For example, if it were straightforward to look at genomic data and know whether one responded or didn't to a drug like "aspirin" that would be great - but the link is not clear....yet.

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