An Australian start-up is the first in the country to offer at-home genetic tests for hopeful parents.
Eugene Labs has created a genetic testing kit, priced from $479, aimed at helping people plan a healthy pregnancy.
The test uses saliva to screen for 300 serious genetic conditions and allows people to know their risks of passing on these conditions to their children. The app also offers professional counselling through videos and video calls.
Eugene Labs co-founder and CEO Kunal Kalro told Your Money Live the service is unique in that it’s accessible to anyone, no matter where they live and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
“You essentially spit in the tube, put it back in the pre-labelled mailbox and you drop it in the mail.
“We send it off to our lab and when your results are in, you schedule another call with your counsellor and they help you understand and walk you through your results,” Kalro said.
The test gives people access to genetic counsellors, whose job it is to help people feel “empowered to make decisions they understand”.
“Most people think of genetics as black and white, but mostly it’s really just grey,” Kalro said.
The company launched two and a half years ago and has seen support from doctors, rare disease advocacy groups and investment from the IVF industry.
Kalro thinks it’s only a matter of time before carrier testing becomes a standard part of pregnancy care.
At almost $500 a pop for the test, it may be seen as a discretionary item that might not be accessible to all, despite the company’s mission for more affordable healthcare.
But Kalro says “this is as affordable as it gets” until the technology catches up.
“To paint a picture, the next closest competitor offers the test at $800-900 per person. Our test for couples is $679, but all our competitors, their couples test is $1600.”
He said ethics are a core part of the Eugene Labs business.
“We started this company because we wanted to create the kind of healthcare service that we would want for ourselves and the people that we care about. In doing that, you can’t ignore ethics.”
Watch the full interview above.