The Web search giant’s investment in Navigenics is further proof it wants an early stake in direct-to-consumer genetic screening.
Your DNA falls into the realm of “the world’s information,” and it seems that Google (GOOG), as part of its corporate mission, is making a play to organize that, too. The Internet giant received heavy press in 2007 when it invested at least $4.4 million(BusinessWeek.com, 11/29/07) in a genetic screening company, 23andMe, that was started by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and her business partner.
Google’s interest in DNA doesn’t end there. It is also putting money into a second Silicon Valley DNA-screening startup, Navigenics. The company is also backed by star venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. For a spit of saliva and $2,500, your genetic test results are securely delivered to your computer screen with your genetic likelihood for 18 medical conditions, from Alzheimer’s to rheumatoid arthritis to several types of cancer. Navigenics aims to boost disease prevention by providing customers reports on their DNA that they can share with their doctors. The company addresses privacy concerns by encrypting customer identities, and screens only for conditions it deems to have scientifically sound genetic studies. The company also offers genetic counseling.