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Helix wants to build a marketplace for your DNA

One mouth swab and your data can be shared with as many healthcare startups as you can afford.
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There are secrets buried deep within our genetic code, and more than a few companies that want to help you learn them. Helix believes that the gaggle of startups vying for your DNA have a problem: they all need an individual sample to use. That's why the company is positioning itself as a marketplace where you take a single DNA swab, and then it shares the information with whoever you choose.

The idea is that your genetic information can then be processed by these third-party companies with no more than the click of a mouse. Say that you have your data on file with Helix, and want to sign up to a diet and fitness plan with either DNA Fit or Lose It!. Hand over your payment details to the provider of your choice, which includes big names like National Geographic and Vinome, and you're all set.

In order to sign up with Helix, you'll pay $80 and receive the usual mouth swab kit, that you'll send back to be sequenced. The company will create and store 22,000 protein-coding genes as well as any "information rich areas" that Helix will determine. In addition, you'll be able to access "independent genetic counseling," with partner company Genome Medical, connecting you to expert physicians who can guide you.

Although it's worth saying that, while it's never been described as such, other services, like 23andMe, offer a similar service. If you have already sent your DNA there for ancestry testing, then you can authorize companies like DNAFit to access that data on your behalf. You can be sure that, no matter what company is offering this, that the privacy implications are going to be huge, and massively under appreciated.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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