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Invitae, Helix to Launch Health Scan Apps for Inherited Disorders in 2017

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genetic testing company Invitae will launch health-related applications for common, actionable inherited disorders next year using Helix's DNA sequencing platform.

"The Invitae apps will be designed to provide healthy individuals with a proactive genetic health scan focused on risk factors for common diseases for which there are preventive measures available," Invitae said in a statement. The first applications will focus on genes linked to inherited forms of cancer and heart disease.

Helix, which launched last year with backing from Illumina, Warburg Pincus, and Sutter Hill Ventures, operates a CLIA-certified sequencing lab, and facilitates sample collection and data storage. Meanwhile, partners like Invitae can work with Helix to develop apps that consumers can use to explore their DNA information in different contexts, such as health, nutrition, and genealogy. 

Invitae noted that these apps are not meant for those at high risk for inherited conditions, but individuals at low risk based on their medical and family history, who likely haven't had genetic testing. "With the Helix platform we can now provide low cost genetic 'health scans' for healthy individuals with the power to introduce more preventive health measures in advance of disease diagnosis," Invitae CEO Randy Scott said in a statement.

Although Invitae said it won't market these apps to high-risk patients who should receive more comprehensive diagnostic testing, a doctor will still have to finalize an individual's order to use such an app and receive a health-related report. Additionally, Invitae will provide genetic counseling for consumers using its apps.

"Making Invitae expertise available through Helix will add an important health-related component to this new approach to personal genomics," Invitae Chief Medical Officer Robert Nussbaum said in a statement.

Since launching a year ago, Helix has inked partnerships with various groups using its platform to develop apps for educating consumers and improving their access to genetic information. Good Start Genetics is using Helix's platform to develop apps that couples can use to learn about their reproductive health. Duke University and the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic are developing consumer education-related apps. And Laboratory Corporation of America is planning to provide analysis and interpretation services for actionable genetic conditions through Helix's platform.