DNA Startups

As of recently, start-ups with a focus on data-mining and clinical software have begun to attract a lot of venture funding. Businesses in the sector offer genomic testing, fertility treatment, epidemic monitoring, cancer screening, and a lot more.

Promising Startups

Companies such as DNAFit - https://www.dnafit.com/ca/and Helix offer personalized services that help customers find more about their abilities, individual preferences, and lifestyle. Helix features genomic testing designed for individuals who want to find about their genetic predispositions, ancestry, the optimal diet for their body, how genes impact their children and families, and more. Customers are offered the chance to learn about their ancestors, their migration routes and origins, and whether DNA comes from Africa, Asia, or Europe. Genomic testing also helps uncover whether individuals are at risk of developing serious medical conditions such as familial hypercholesterolemia, Alzheimer’s disease, and a rare form of diabetes. DNAFit is another promising start-up that uses DNA testing to help customers optimize their fitness regime and diet. They are asked to send a saliva sample for testing, which provides important information about their wellbeing, nutrition, and physical strength. The goal is to help individuals make better choices based on their genetic response to different stimuli. Instant Chemistry is also a DNA start-up with a focus on romantic relationships and relationship compatibility. Customers learn how compatible they are with their partner based on psychological compatibility, neurocompatibility, and biocompatibility. Neurocompatibility refers to emotional response and brain chemistry while biocompatibility reveals whether partners have complementary genes. Psychological compatibility, on the other hand, shows whether partners have compatible behavioral patterns. Again, they are asked to provide a saliva sample for testing.


Venture capitalists are eager to invest in DNA start-ups and in 2017, the amount invested in the sector totaled $3.2 billion, which is almost double the amount in 2016 ($1.7 billion). Last year, Grail, which is an early cancer detection start-up, managed to raise over $900 million. Guardant Health, a company offering a biopsy-free tumor sequencing test, raised 360 million in 2017.

Obviously, venture capital is one option for start-ups, with funding being offered to businesses with high growth potential. Emerging companies get access to financing that is provided by funds and firms in exchange for equity. There are different types of venture capitalists, including limited liability companies and partnerships. The former consist of funds of funds and other pooled investment entities, insurance companies, foundations, financial endowments, pension funds, and high net worth individuals. Some venture capitalists specialize in certain sectors while others invest across industries. Other financing options for DNA start-ups include loans, lines of credit, equipment loans for used and new equipment, and rollover for business start-ups. The latter is a great option for persons who have a lot of money in their retirement account. Obviously, this is not the best choice for business owners that are close to retirement.

Business Plan Sections and Basics

A good business plan is the key to success when it comes to accessing external financing - https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/. A DNA start-up business plan should include major sections such as required funds, credit - https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/top-12-best-credit-cards-in-canada-for-2018/ and financial forecast, location and facilities, company history, mission statement, and exit strategy. Other sections to focus on are future products, technology, and sourcing and fulfillment. It is a good idea to include a section on potential customers with subsections on key customers, industry analysis, market growth, trends, and needs, and market overview. When it comes to marketing and sales, a good business plan covers details such as distribution and promotion, pricing, and positioning. Finally, a comprehensive business plan should have a strategy and implementation section with a focus on strategic alliances, competitive edge, SWOT analysis, and milestones.

What is DNA Barcoding

This is a method that was developed to learn more about various species by identifying samples belonging to certain organisms. Basically, DNA sequences are used for the identification of organisms, including protists, fungi, flowering plants, and animals. Gene regions that are used for the purpose of identification are called barcodes. Basically, this method enables researchers to retrieve information to study biological diversity.

How Barcoding Works

The first step in the process is obtaining a specimen, which can be done in different ways. Specimens can be taken from collections in seed banks, botanic gardens, zoos, natural history museums, and other settings. The next step is to extract DNA from the specimen. A small piece of tissue is taken to this end. A method known as PRC amplification is used to replicate the barcode. The third step is to sequence the barcode gene. Different letters are used for the sequence, with letters standing for guanine, thymine, adenine, and cytosine, which are all nucleic acids.

Barcode Regions

CO1 or the mitrochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 gene helps identify different groups of species, including flies, fish, butterflies, birds. A major advantage is the fact that this gene region is short, which makes quick sequencing possible. ITS or the internal transcribed spacer is the barcode for fungi, and for plants, there are two gene regions – matK and rbcL. The potential use of barcodes to learn more about ancient life has been explored as well.

Software and Tools

Barcoding software combines multiple components, including pipeline automation, database submission tools, workflow tracking, sequence analysis tools, and laboratory and field information management systems. Workflow tracking is used to link laboratory and field information. The Genbank Sumbission and Biocode LIMS plugins are used to integrate the different components, including database submission, workflow tracking, and laboratory and field information management systems. Genbank allows scientists to make submissions in different ways. Sequin is one tool that can be used on UNIX, PC, and MAC. Other tools include the Submission Portal, tbl2asn, and BankIt. The Submission Portal is a handy tool to submit sequences such as Influenza, rRNA-ITS, and ribosomal RNA as well as the Beta-lactamase gene, BioNano maps, and other files. Banklt is another useful tool to submit sequence features with the exception of protein-only, primer-only, and non-contiguous sequences and ancient DNA.

BOLD or the Barcode of Life Data Systems is an online analysis and data storage system created by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics - http://biodiversitygenomics.net/. BOLD includes useful tools such as an analysis and data collection workbench, registry of BINs, educational portal, and data portal. The education portal allows visitors to submit and view barcode data while the data portal enables visitors to locate public records by different criteria, including depository, taxonomy, geography. The public data portal helps visitors to retrieve information about butterflies and moths, invertebrates, birds, mammals, mosquitoes, and other species. There are some 1.3 million records created by researchers and academics across the globe.

Instructors and students have access to geographic distributions, images, and data records of barcoded organisms. The workbench is a data analysis and collection tool to publish, analyze, archive, and manage barcodes while the registry of BINS /barcode index number/ features tree diagrams for member sequences. There are thousands of BINS for animals, including nematode, cnidaria, mollusca, brachiopoda, and porifera, to name a few.