The role of genetics in the existence of humans cannot be undermined. This is because this piece of information makes up our very being and understanding these genetic markers gives an insight into our history as well as open up a world of new medical possibilities.
This why 54Gene aims to unlock vital details about people and their health using their DNA.
Founded in 2019, 54Gene is a biotech startup offering genetic testing and molecular diagnostics services to Africans. The Lagos and San Francisco based startup is founded by Abasi Ene-Obong (CEO), Damilola Oni, Gatumi Aliyu, and Ogochukwu Francis Osifo.
The name 54Gene comes from the startups aim to unlocking the African genome and the 54 countries in Africa.
Tests carried out by the startup provide important information for diagnosing, treating and preventing illnesses and infectious diseases.
This is because the tests provide reports on a person’s health, ancestry, risks of developing certain genetic conditions before they manifest, and the chances of passing down certain traits to their kids. In addition, the tests would also provide information on unique features about physical traits.
And 54Gene believes the insights gained from these tests would help to improve the lives of Africans.
This is true as many parts of Africa lack molecular diagnostics capabilities and facilities. What this means is that majority of molecular diagnostics carried out by Africans are performed outside the continent. Thus there is inadequate access to the services and for this reason, they are very expensive. But 54Gene aims to be Africa’s 23andMe and change that narrative.
Consumers can order for a test via the startups platform. After the order, they will be sent a kit which contains a tube. Customers are required to submit their saliva samples by spitting into the tube.
A 54Gene logistics partner will pick up the sample and take it back to the lab for testing. Users will receive their expansive reports via their already registered 54gene account as soon as it is ready.
The startup is already working with pharmaceutical companies, healthcare players and non-traditional healthcare companies to improve availability, and accessibility of users. It is also building the first pan-African biobank across multiple disease states to aid drug discoveries.
Despite starting recently, the startup has gained some traction over the last few months. It was selected in March for YCombinator cohorts for the Winter 2019 program, and raised $150,000.
It was also selected to participate in the 3rd class Google Launchpad Africa Accelerator alongside 2 other Nigerian startups.