After experiencing financial issues, DNA testing company Veritas Genetics has announced the suspension of its U.S. operations in an unexpected announcement on December 4th 2019.
The company is perhaps best known for being co-founded by renowned Harvard University geneticist George Church and has been working towards reducing the costs of genome sequencing so that it could become widely available. There are other companies offering genome sequencing, such as 23andMe, but they only look at a small portion of the total DNA; Veritas, on the other hand, sequences the entire genome for $599.
According to Crunchbase, the company had raised over $50 million in venture funding, but that money appears to have run out. Veritas recently took to Twitter and stated that it had encountered “an unexpected adverse financing situation” that has led to the closure of its U.S. operations.
Allegedly, the closure may be linked in part to investors’ concerns over Chinese investment in the company and the current administration’s moves to prevent Chinese investment in U.S. companies. Veritas’s China-based investors include Lilly Asia Ventures, TrustBridge Partners, and Simcere Pharmaceutical.
The closure sees a total of around 50 members of staff being terminated in Danvers, Massachusetts. While this is a blow for the company, it will continue to operate in China, Latin America, and Europe and has vowed to continue its mission of driving down the cost of genome sequencing.
Hopefully, with more companies becoming involved in genome sequencing and its move towards becoming a more commonly used diagnostic tool in healthcare, we will see the prices of whole genome sequencing tumble in the next decade to become widely accessible and affordable. While this is disappointing news for people interested in sequencing their DNA, it does not necessarily mean the end of the line for Veritas, which will be continuing to operate in regions more conducive to their business.
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