Veritas Genetics review – Is the pioneer of personal genomics still the best?

Rating based on our Veritas Genetics review

7 facts from our Veritas Genetics review

  1. Location: Danvers, USA
  2. Products: 30x whole genome sequencing
  3. Reporting: focus on disease risks and carrier screenings
  4. Ordering: requires a physician prescription
  5. Raw data download: VCF files available for $99 upon request
  6. Privacy: HIPAA compliant; in-house lab in Danvers, USA
  7. Cost: $599 for 30x whole genome sequencing, advanced diagnostic DNA testing for $1,599 – $3599

Introduction

This is a review of Veritas Genetics, a personal genomics company that offers whole-genome sequencing. Veritas Genetics founded in 2014 by George Church, Mirza Cifric, Preston Estep, and Jonathan Zhao. Its goal is to empower people to live healthier, longer lives by driving accessibility to genomics across the globe.

Veritas Genetics was the first company to offer affordable personal genome sequencing to consumers and patients for less than $1000. It was spun out of Harvard Medical School. Veritas Genetics is headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts in the United States, including corporate offices in Europe and China. Read more in our Veritas Genetics review!

Whole-Genome Sequencing (WGS)

Veritas Genetics stands out from other personal genomics companies because it offers whole-genome DNA sequencing. This is the gold standard for genetic testing because it reads out the entire 6.4 billion bases long human genome. It decodes almost 100% of the DNA while other technologies analyze less than 1% of the genome. 

The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Since then he cost of whole-genome sequencing has decreased from billions of dollars to less than $1000. This has enabled the development of a personal genome sequencing industry. This is a significant advancement to the whole consumer genomics that has so far relied on much less comprehensive tests. 

Taking the Veritas Genetics test

The flagship product of Veritas Genetics is myGenome, a whole genome sequencing and interpretation service.

The myGenome test kit can be purchased online at veritasgenetics.com.

An authorization from a physician is required for the assessment of results. This helps customers make well-informed decisions on lifestyle changes, etc. In the absence of a physician, the company partners with third-party physicians. These physicians can sign-off the results for a fee. 

The Veritas kit comes in a box with instructions for sample collection and container for easy and safe storage. They require a saliva sample from which the DNA is extracted and sequenced. Prior to sample collection, refraining from food, drinks, and brushing for at least 30 minutes is recommended. Once the sample has been collected, it can be mailed to the company’s CLIA-certified laboratory for analysis.

The sequencing is performed on Illumina NovaSeq 6000 systems with further validation of pathogenic genetic variants using Sanger sequencing. 

The results are made available to the consumer within 16 weeks. During this period of waiting, the customer can follow the status of the sample on their account portal. The report is made available to the authorized physician 72 hours prior. This allows the doctor to ease the discussion of any sensitive information.

Alongside the report, Veritas Genetics also offers a complimentary 15-20 minute session with a genetic counselor. This is particularly important for customers with specific findings in their report, marked in red. 

Products and pricing

The customer can choose from three different expert interpretation services: standard, premium, and diagnostic.

The standard service caters to consumers that want to learn more about their risks of diseases. It includes information about drug sensitivities, over 40 carrier conditions, and over 200 genetic diseases. This DNA test is available at 599 USD.

The premium service includes all the standard testing. Additionally, it provides more information on cancer (e.g. breast cancer), cardiovascular risks, and carrier conditions. This includes over 650 genetic conditions and over 225 carrier conditions. This genetic test is available at 1,599 USD.

The diagnostic service catered towards patients that have a complex medical history who want to learn about underlying genetic causes. This may provide patients with medical management options or help with treatment decisions. The cost of this service ranges from 2,599 to 3,599 USD.

Veritas Genetics customers can also purchase an additional hour-long genetic counseling session for 299 USD.

Review of Veritas Genetics reporting

Introduction to Veritas Genetic reporting

Veritas Genetics reporting provides information about their genetic risks for health conditions, disease carrier status and pharmacogenomics. 

The Veritas test report can be accessed from the dashboard of an online account. It can also be downloaded as a PDF file. The clinical section outlines the results associated with disease risks for diseases that are organized into the following categories.

  • Cancer Susceptibility
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Clotting Disorders
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders
  • Immune Disorders
  • Mitochondrial Conditions & Inheritance
  • Neurological disorders
  • Organ Health

A complete list of all analyzed genes and diseases can be found here. The findings are classified according to their potential impact on health.

Classification of health-related finding in Veritas Genetics reports.
Classification of health-related findings in Veritas Genetics reports.

The carrier section of the Veritas Genetics DNA report shows conditions that may be passed on to children. The pharmacogenomics section indicates if there are genetic factors that may influence response to certain medications.

Finally, there is a trait section that is organized into 12 categories. These include athleticism, nutrition, and more and an ancestry section is available as well. A full list of available traits can be found here.

To aid with the interpretation of the genetic data, Veritas Genetics uses machine learning and artificial intelligence. This has also helped with lowering the cost of the tests. It has also developed an open-source platform, Arvados, for storing and analyzing genomic data. It currently exceeds 20 petabytes and is used globally by pharmaceutical companies and research institutions. 

Access to raw genetic data

A user’s raw DNA data can also be requested, though it is not free and immediately available. Access to VCF files costs 99 USD and takes 5-7 days to process and electronically deliver. The order can be placed by contacting Customer Support.

Review of Veritas Genetics Privacy

The information collected by Veritas Genetics includes name, ZIP code, phone number, email address, and data from physicians. All this data is stored on a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant cloud service. This data is encrypted and stored on the cloud for 10 years for regulatory reasons. Veritas does not share the data with third parties without permission.

Veritas Genetics in the news

In 2016, Veritas Genetics became the first company to offer whole-genome sequencing for less than $1000. In July 2019 Veritas Genetics set a record by offering whole-genome sequencing for only $199, albeit for a limited time. 1000 genetic tests were sold in under 24 hours.

In December 2019, Veritas Genetics announced that it would temporarily suspend operations in the United States. The company continued to serve customers in Europe and Latin America through their active locations in Madrid and Shanghai. In January 2020, Veritas Genetics announced the reopening of its US services after some restructuring of its business. Moving forward, Veritas Genetics will be focusing on their diagnostic offering.

Awards and Recognition

Veritas Genetics was named a CNBC Disruptor 50 in 2018 and in 2019. It was recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of 50 Smartest Companies in 2016 and 2017.

Veritas Genetics Reviews 

Veritas Genetics has mostly positive reviews. However, a number of users mention the delay in getting their reports.

Veritas Genetics Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides actionable insights into users’ health
  • Whole-genome sequencing
  • Easy sample collection at home
  • Range of tests available based on the desired level of information
  • Samples processed in CLIA-certified labs
  • Raw data available upon request
  • Genetic counseling
  • Global customer support

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other services like 23andMe and AncestryDNA
  • Some customers have reported delays receiving their reports

Summary

Veritas Genetics has pioneered personal genome sequencing. It has created a path that other genome sequencing companies, including Nebula Genomics, have since followed. With its new focus on diagnostic genetic testing, it is an option that patients should consider.

For reviews of more DNA testing companies take a look at our blog!

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