With 35 different in-home health diagnostic tests now on offer, Everlywell raises $50 million to expand


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Venture capitalists are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into healthcare startups pitching lower cost alternatives to traditional services and one of their primary targets is diagnostics.

As investors look to back services that can pitch lower cost alternatives to customers, companies like EverlyWell, the Disrupt Battlefield alumnus which just raised $50 million in new financing start to look more appealing.

Since its launch on our San Francisco stage in 2016, EverlyWell has expanded from eight test kits that use blood, saliva, or urine to diagnose a variety of ailments (from food sensitivities to high cholesterol to fatigue) to now pitching a total of 35 in-home testing offerings to consumers.

The same pressures on American consumers continue to drive EverlyWell’s growth. More employees are opting for high deductible plans offered by employers, which means that they’re paying more out of pocket for medical expenses. And increasingly consumers are looking

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Seven Africa-focused startups present at Y Combinator’s Demo Day


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


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The seven African-focused companies which presented as part of Y Combinator’s 200 strong cohort of Winter 2019 class of 200 startups may seem like a small percentage for such a large class, but it represents the growing significance of African ventures in YC’s universe.

Since 2016, the Silicon Valley accelerator—that provides seed funds and mentorship for early stage startups—has backed 25 companies located in Africa and another 10 with an Africa product focus, according to YC spokesperson Lindsay Amos.

Past YC Africa alumns covered here at TechCrunch include payments startup Paystack, logistics firm Kobo360, and VOD startup Afrostream (now shuttered).

Of the 7 Africa-oriented YC class who presented at demo day 2019, 5 originated in Nigeria and 1 in Tanzania. All 7 are fintech ventures with products targeted across currency trading, agriculture, healthcare, and education.

Here’s the skinny on the Africa focused startups that presented at Demo Day

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XGenomes is bringing DNA sequencing to the masses


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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As healthcare moves toward genetically tailored treatments, one of the biggest hurdles to truly personalized medicine is the lack of fast, low-cost genetic testing.

And few people are more familiar with the problems of today’s genetic diagnostics tools than Kalim Mir, the 52-year-old founder of XGenomes, who has spent his entire professional career studying the human genome.

Ultimately genomics is going to be the foundation for healthcare,” says Mir. “For that we need to move toward a sequencing of populations.” And population-scale gene sequencing is something that current techniques are unable to achieve. 

“If we’re talking about population scale sequencing with millions of people we just don’t have the throughput,” Mir says.

That’s why he started XGenomes, which is presenting as part of the latest batch of Y Combinator companies next week.

A visiting scientist in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Genetics, Mir worked with the

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Lack of transparency in healthcare startups risks another Theranos implosion


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Are more Theranos -style scandals looming for investors in healthcare startups?

A team of researchers associated with the Meta Research Innovation Center at Stanford thinks so. They’ve  published a paper warning investors in life sciences startups that a systemic lack of transparency exists in their portfolio companies — creating the possibility for more multi-billion dollar implosions and scandals like the one that toppled Theranos and its charismatic founder, Elizabeth Holmes.

Indeed, one of the study’s authors, Dr. John Ioannidis, the co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford and director of the University’s PhD program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research, was  among the first people to identify the risks associated with Theranos and its “stealth research”.

Now Dr. Ioannidis and his co-authors, Ioana A. Cristea and Eli M. Cahan have published a study surveying the publicly available research from the largest privately held companies in the healthcare space, and found them lacking.

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Mixtape podcast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and that meme life


This post is by Henry Pickavet from TechCrunch


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Welcome back to TechCrunch Mixtape, the podcast that goes a bit behind the headlines to bring tech to culture.

This week Megan Rose Dickey and I welcome Tiana Kara, the head of partnerships and growth at #builtbygirls (which, like TechCrunch, is owned by Verizon Media Group). The organization connects girls and women between the ages of 15 and 22 with mentors of all stripes in the tech industry based on their interests.

The idea here is that not all tech jobs include coding, and #builtbygirls wants all young girls who want in the industry to know that. The question that always comes up is why is it so hard hire diverse staffs.

“What we’re doing is making it a little bit polarizing,” Kara tells us. “We’re telling them, go out and become an engineer versus everything that’s a part of you can be amplified by tech. So take

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Curious 23andMe twin results show why you should take DNA testing with a grain of salt


This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch


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If you’ve ever enthusiastically sent your spit off in the mail, you were probably anxious for whatever unexpected insights the current crop of DNA testing companies would send back. Did your ancestors hang out on the Iberian peninsula? What version of your particular family lore does the science support?

Most people who participate in mail-order DNA testing don’t think to question the science behind the results — it’s science after all. But because DNA testing companies lack aggressive oversight and play their algorithms close to the chest, the gems of genealogical insight users hope to glean can be more impressionistic than most of these companies let on.

To that point, Charlsie Agro, host of CBC’s Marketplace, and her twin sister sent for DNA test kits from five companies: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA.

As CBC reports, “Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching

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23andMe updates its ancestry reports, but they’re still not perfect


This post is by Megan Rose Dickey from TechCrunch


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23andMe, co-founded by CEO Anne Wojcicki, has deployed its latest update, featuring interactive ancestry details, cultural insights about food, art, language, and the option to order a physical ancestry book. Starting today, customers will be able to see more granular ancestry results from more than 1,000 regions, as well as 33 population-specific pages about cultural information.

Before this update, 23andMe simply said I was 12 percent Brtish and Irish. Now, it’s able to break down where in the U.K. my ancestors likely lived. 23andMe, however, was not able to detect more granular data in Ireland.

It was also unable to detect additional evidence in Nigeria, where 23andMe says 25.2 percent of my ancestry comes from. That’s likely because, even though 23andMe has made efforts to grow the number of African and African-American people in its dataset, it’s still lacking. Though, it’s worth noting no ancestry service has it

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uBiome is jumping into therapeutics with a healthy $83 million in Series C financing


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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23andMe, IBM and now uBiome is the next tech company to jump into the lucrative multi-billion dollar drug discovery market.

The company started out with a consumer gut health test to check whether your intestines carry the right kind of bacteria for healthy digestion but has since expanded to include over 250,000 samples for everything from the microbes on your skin to vaginal health — the largest data set in the world for these types of samples, according to the company.

Founder Jessica Richman now says there’s a wider opportunity to use this data to create value in therapeutics.

To support its new drug discovery efforts, the San Francisco-based startup will be moving its therapeutics unit into new Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters and appointing former Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to the board of directors as well.

The company has a healthy pile of cash to help build out that new

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Nutrigene wants to personalize your vitamins using your genetic code


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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Vitamins are proving to be a lucrative industry in the United States. Just last year vitamin sales pulled in roughly $37 billion for the U.S. economy. That’s up from $28 billion in 2010. To cash in on this growing market, several startups have popped up in the last few years — including Nutrigene, a startup combining the vitamin business with another lucrative avenue of revenue in consumer DNA analysis.

Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA. You get your analysis by filling out an assessment on the startup’s website, choosing a recommended package such as “essentials,” “improve performance” or “optimize gut health.” After that you can also choose to upload your DNA profile from 23andMe, then Nutrigene will send you

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23andMe might soon offer a more comprehensive $749 DNA service


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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23andMe is testing a $749 “premium” service for deeper health insights, according to several customers who saw a test page for the new product and posted about it on Reddit.

First spotted by CNBC, the company served up a test web page to several customers telling them about a service that would allow them to look at their “whole genome data.” However, when they clicked on the link provided, nothing happened. A few Redditors even posited the notification may have been a mistake as the link led nowhere.

But, according to the company, there’s no error here. 23andMe later confirmed to TechCrunch it sent out a test page to some customers to “gauge interest” in such a product. However, there’s “nothing planned” at this time for such a service, according to a 23andMe spokesperson.

The consumer DNA company charges $299 for its highest package right now, and

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23andMe underscores that privacy-loving customers need to opt out of its data deal with GlaxoSmithKline


This post is by Connie Loizos from TechCrunch


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23andMe, the genetics testing company, is in a state of constant evolution, as you’d expect any 12-year-old company would be. But that also means that customers need to be aware of how the company is using data that users may have earlier consented to give without anticipating its newer initiatives.

One new tie-up was a particular point of interest here at TechCrunch’s massive Disrupt show, taking place this week in San Francisco. Specifically, CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki was asked a series of questions about 23andMe’s pact with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which announced in July that it acquired a $300 million stake in 23andMe in order to more efficiently develop drugs. As part of the four-year-deal, GSK gains exclusive rights to mine 23andMe’s customer data to more quickly and efficiently develop drug targets. Said Wojcicki of the partnership: “If we start with genetics, will we have a higher success

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George Church’s genetics on the blockchain startup just raised $4.3 million from Khosla


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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Nebula Genomics, the startup that wants to put your whole genome on the blockchain, has announced the raise of $4.3 million in Series A from Khosla Ventures and other leading tech VC’s such as Arch Venture Partners, Fenbushi Capital, Mayfield, F-Prime Capital Partners, Great Point Ventures, Windham Venture Partners, Hemi Ventures, Mirae Asset, Hikma Ventures and Heartbeat Labs.

Nebula has also has forged a partnership with genome sequencing company Veritas Genetics.

Veritas was one of the first companies to sequence the entire human genome for less than $1,000 in 2015, later adding all that info to the touch of a button on your smartphone. Both Nebula and Veritas were cofounded by MIT professor and “godfather” of the Human Genome Project, George Church.

The partnership between the two companies will allow the Nebula marketplace, or the place where those consenting to share their genetic data can earn Nebula’s cryptocurrency called “Nebula

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23andMe’s ancestry tools are getting better for people of color


This post is by Megan Rose Dickey from TechCrunch


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23andMe is beefing up its African, East Asian and Native American ancestry capabilities — something it has sorely lacked. Specifically, 23andMe has added to its database 12 new regions across Africa and East Asia. When I first tried 23andMe a few years ago, it told me I was 71 percent West African, which tells me next to nothing about which countries the bulk of my ancestry comes from. Well, that’s all changing — though, I already received the information from Ancestry — with 23andMe’s latest product update.

“Key to this update is really the availability of more data from around the world, specifically in Africa and Asia,” 23andMe Senior Product Manager Robin Smith told TechCrunch. “It’s possible through certain initiatives, like the African Genetics Project and Global Genetics Project.”

Before, 23andMe only provided three subgroups in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Now, there are eight additional subgroups in the area,

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The erosion of Web 2.0


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It seems quaint to imagine now but the original vision for the web was not an information superhighway. Instead, it was a newspaper that fed us only the news we wanted. This was the central thesis brought forward in the late 1990s and prophesied by thinkers like Bill Gates – who expected a beautiful, customized “road ahead” – and Clifford Stoll who saw only snake oil. At the time, it was the most compelling use of the Internet those thinkers thought possible. This concept – that we were to be coddled by a hive brain designed to show us exactly what we needed to know when we needed to know it – continued apace until it was supplanted by the concept of User Generated Content – UGC – a related movement that tore down gatekeepers and all but destroyed propriety in the online world.

That was the arc of Web

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Genoox raises $6M to help physicians better diagnose patients with genomic data


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23andMe, Color, and other genomic sequencing startups have exposed demand from consumers for cheap ways to test for potential problems they may have — and Amir Trabelsi hopes to bring that mentality to medical institutions around the world.

That’s the hope for Genoox, a genomic analysis startup that’s geared toward doctors, clinicians and researchers that hopes to lower the cost of getting data from gene sequencing, and speed that process up, in the same ways that 23andMe and Color have done for consumers. Genoox at its heart is a data science company, taking the raw data from a genome sequencing and figuring out how to convey actionable information to medical professionals — and, hopefully, on a more complete scale than just consumer startups targeting specific health problems. The company said it has raised a $6 million funding round led by Triventures, a healthcare-focused venture firm.

“We want to bring [medical

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23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki and Unity’s John Riccitello to join us at Disrupt SF 2018


This post is by Jordan Crook from TechCrunch


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Disrupt SF might feel familiar to many of you, but I encourage you to be prepared for a surprise. The world’s most impactful tech startup conference is about to get bigger and better than ever.

We’re moving to Moscone West, doubling attendance capacity, and tripling our programming with a total of four stages across three days. Which means we need the greatest minds in the biz to grace our stage.

That said, I’m pleased to announce that 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki and Unity’s John Riccitello will be joining us on stage!

Anne Wojcicki

After a decade investing in healthcare, Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe in 2006. The company launched with a primary focus of giving consumers access to their own genetic information, disrupting an industry that Ancestry.com (founded in 1983) had been dominating.

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the company. In 2013, the FDA started to intervene with 23andMe

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23andMe gets FDA green light for cancer risk test


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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 Genetic testing powerhouse 23andMe announced today that it’s officially received the FDA go-ahead to launch a direct-to-consumer testing kit for genes linked to various forms of cancer. The forthcoming kit, which will be made available without a prescription, tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are linked to higher risk of ovarian, break and prostate cancer. “Being the first and… Read More

Human sequencing pioneer George Church wants to give you the power to sell your DNA on the blockchain


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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 The blockchain is the buzziest thing on the internet these days and now MIT professor and godfather of the Human Genome Project George Church wants to put your genes on it. His new startup Nebula Genomics plans to sequence your genome for less than $1,000 and then add your data to the blockchain through the purchase of a “Nebula Token.” Read More

Doggie DNA startup Embark raises $4.5 million in seed to find your puppy’s breed


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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 Ever wanted to know the genetic mix of your mutt? Embark, a doggie DNA startup has raised $4.5 million in seed to expand its offering of genetic kits for your pup’s pedigree. Embark launched in Austin, Texas two years ago with its “Embark Dog DNA Test Kit” that tell dog owners their pet’s pedigree, where in the world their dog comes from and if they have a genetic… Read More