GeneHub’s Crowdfunding Flub

A campaign to build a direct-to-consumer genome sequencing service pulls the plug after two days of fundraising.

By | September 29, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL HUMAN GENOME RESEARCH INSTITUTELast week, Bio-IT World reported on the Kickstarter campaign of GeneHub, a would-be direct-to-consumer genome sequencing company. But just two days later, GeneHub pulled the project because its name violated the trademark of a different company, Genohub, Bio-IT reported September 25.

“Firstly, we’re far behind on the level of funding that we’d need to hit our $125k. But that in itself isn’t a reason to take it down early,” GeneHub announced on its Kickstarter page. “Yesterday we learned that there is a genomics company called Genohub that we were unaware of, putting the brand and video and everything we’ve worked so hard on squarely in ‘trademark violation’ zone.” 

Genohub connects researchers who have sequencing needs with sequencing providers (Bio-IT World also wrote about that firm last year).

According to Re/code, GeneHub’s plan was to raise $125,000 through Kickstarter and offer whole-genome sequencing for customers at a pricetag of $3,490. The firm would not interpret the data for medical insight nor provide ancestry services, but allow customers to analyze the sequence themselves.

Hank Greely, the director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University, told Re/code that avoiding such interpretation may not help the company escape regulatory scrutiny—and it perhaps it shouldn’t anyway. “Who is going to make sure they are accurate?” he asked. “Or, at least, make sure they give their customers an honest and accurate assessment of just how (in)accurate they are? I think someone should—and that someone probably shouldn’t be the company itself.”

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Avatar of: wctopp

wctopp

Posts: 110

September 29, 2014

There's all kinds of complicated, confusing, inaccurate, and outright insane material in libraries and on the internet.  We expect people to read it and interpret it with discretion.  We're aware that some people don't and cause themselves harm.  Megadoses of strontium for stomach ulcers, whatever.  A whole genome sequence is exactly in this category and is not unusual in any way.  We ought to be able to read it, be expected to interpret it wisely or ask someone wise to do it, and if a few people don't that's not unusual or unexpected based on precedent.

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