What’s The Deal With 23andMe?
Nice Ones, what are you aware about 23andMe (Nasdaq: ME)?
A few of you most likely know 23andMe from its dwelling testing kits. No, not dwelling drug assessments — genetic assessments that inform you the place your ancestors got here from.
23andMe’s assessments had been a preferred vacation/birthday present a number of years in the past. Based on the corporate, 23andMe’s DNA assessments — which price about $99 every — can inform you about your ancestry, traits like hair and eye colour (such as you didn’t already know … or did a few of you neglect?) and genetic markers for sure well being situations.
As an illustration, once I took mine, I found stunning info … that I had brown hair and brown eyes and that almost everything of my ancestry got here from Germany.
With a final title like Hargett … the place else would you count on my ancestors to return from? (Sup, Nice One Invoice from Nürnberg! Say hello to my household if you happen to see any!)
Additionally, the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, Ohio space is thick with German heritage. I imply, it’s no coincidence that Hofbräuhaus Newport was the primary Hofbräuhaus constructed within the U.S. However I digress…
So, again in February, 23andMe determined to go public by way of a $3.5 billion SPAC merger cope with Richard Branson-backed Virgin Acquisition Group.
On Thursday, 23andMe lastly began buying and selling … with ME inventory skyrocketing greater than 21% in its first official day on Wall Road.
Now, if you happen to’re like me, you’re most likely questioning how an organization that makes dwelling DNA-testing kits is valued at $3.5 billion … or how ME inventory surged 21% in its first day of buying and selling when dangerous SPACs have been persona non grata on Wall Road for months now.
Nicely, I’ll let Virgin Acquisition Group reply that one. When the SPAC merger was first introduced, Virgin mentioned that 23andMe held a “huge proprietary dataset” of DNA that might enable Virgin to “unlock income streams throughout digital well being, therapeutics and extra.”
An unlimited proprietary dataset of your DNA, huh? It appears that evidently outer area isn’t the one area Branson is all for lately, because the 23andMe deal offers good ol’ Richie Wealthy entry to your private internal area.
Nice Ones, are you accustomed to the 1997 film Gattaca? Maintain that thought … we’ll get to it in a bit.
23andMe: Extra Than Meets The Eye
It seems that DNA ancestry testing isn’t the one factor 23andMe is into. The corporate plans to leverage that huge proprietary dataset of DNA within the well being care and biotech markets for drug discovery.
The truth is, it’s already doing so, signing a drug-licensing cope with Spanish pharmaceutical agency Almirall in January 2020. A drug that 23andMe developed utilizing DNA gathered from its hundreds of thousands of paying prospects.
Now, you is perhaps considering: How is that authorized? How can 23andMe develop a drug out of your extraordinarily private info?
The reply is easy: 80% of 23andMe customers agreed to permit their information for use for analysis.
The corporate companions with many educational analysis teams, which appears OK. It’s educational analysis — we’re serving to humanity, proper?
However, 23andMe additionally has partnerships with big-time, multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical firms like GlaxoSmithKline — clearly not a humanitarian firm.
So, let’s recap: Prospects pay 23andMe $99 for an ancestry check and ship the corporate their DNA. In flip, 23andMe supplies prospects with mentioned ancestry and well being info. Nevertheless, it additionally compiles all that information right into a proprietary dataset … which it shares with Massive Pharma companions and makes use of for drug discovery and licensing offers.
That, Nice Ones, is one hell of a racket.
Individuals pay 23andMe to present the corporate the very information it makes use of to design and license medicine. And, no, if you happen to contributed DNA to the database, you don’t receives a commission if 23andMe makes use of your info to design a drug.
The truth is, the phrases of service for utilizing 23andMe assessments explicitly state: “You particularly perceive that you’ll not obtain compensation for any analysis or business merchandise that embrace or end result out of your genetic info or self-reported info.”
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) is probably going kicking itself proper now that it didn’t consider this primary.
You may most likely see now why ME inventory surged this previous week. I imply, 23andMe is getting paid to make a cake that it will get to eat all by itself. Looks like a no brainer funding, proper? Nicely, about that…
Gattaca Rising: The Biggest Risk To Your Privateness
A few of you most likely already perceive why I may need grave considerations about 23andMe. All that very private figuring out information saved in a single place? That spells bother with a capital T.
There are two teams that come instantly to thoughts once I see that a lot private information in a single place: hackers and the federal government.
If 2021 has taught us something, it’s that nothing is sacred in relation to hackers and ransomware purveyors. They went after a meat producer, for heaven’s sake.
Again in 2018, 23andMe competitor MyHeritage was hacked, and 92 million accounts had been compromised. The corporate says no DNA was accessed, however are you able to think about if it was?
Everyone knows what hackers can do with common info — credit score fraud and identification theft are simply the guidelines of the iceberg right here. Now think about what these similar hackers might do along with your DNA.
Truly, it’s not a matter of determining what the hackers would do. They’d promote it. And that “buyer” would possibly use it to blackmail you, perhaps even plant it on the scene of a criminal offense. The probabilities are actually horrifying.
After which there’s the federal government…
Legislation enforcement is already salivating over the large treasure trove of non-public information that firms like 23andMe acquire. The truth is … you guessed it … the FBI has already requested and used this information. In 2018, the FBI requested information from GEDmatch, a free DNA-testing firm, to apprehend the “Golden State Killer.”
I can nearly hear you now: Mr. Nice Stuff, that’s a very good factor! That man was simply evil.
I agree … however is each single case going to be this clear-cut? The place ought to regulation enforcement draw the road? The place ought to authorities draw the road?
Within the film Gattaca, the federal government makes use of DNA testing to find out the place you go to high school, what topics you research, what jobs you get — the whole lot. All for the “good” of the folks. It sounded far-fetched again in 1997. However now? It’s a really actual chance.
Do you belief the federal government and regulation enforcement to have entry to this a lot private info? I certain don’t.
Proper now, there’s just one regulation on the books defending your genetic info: the Genetic Info Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Sadly, GINA solely bans employers and insurance coverage firms from accessing this info. It says nothing concerning the authorities, regulation enforcement and even firms like 23andMe.
Now, 23andMe says that it doesn’t share any personally figuring out info with out specific shopper consent. However, with no legal guidelines governing this information or 23andMe’s enterprise practices, what’s to cease it from altering that coverage sooner or later — particularly if sufficient cash is concerned?
The Last Take: Ought to You Purchase 23andMe?
In the event you’re solely all for 23andMe for investing causes, the corporate has wonderful prospects. The pandemic has proven us simply how useful the biotechnology sector is.
The entire COVID-19 vaccines obtainable had been produced utilizing genetic information, with out which these vaccines would’ve taken a lot longer to develop.
In additional regular occasions — i.e., when there’s not a pandemic taking on drug builders’ consideration and assets — simply consider how that quick turnaround velocity might assist biotechs of all sizes pump out worthwhile medicine en masse, like an ever-whirring cash printer for traders.
23andMe and its DNA database have the potential to be an enormous gamechanger in drug improvement and biotech. With out extra authorities regulation, 23andMe’s $3.5 billion valuation appears extraordinarily low.
That mentioned, these of you seeking to purchase ME inventory would possibly wish to wait till the shares calm down earlier than leaping in.
Personally, nevertheless, this firm worries me greater than a bit of … for apparent causes. Ultimately, I imagine that authorities regulation will come down exhausting on what you possibly can and may’t do with private genetic info, and that can eat into 23andMe’s potential to “repurpose” mentioned DNA information.
Or perhaps “imagine” is simply too sturdy a phrase. Hope. I hope we get actual genetic-data regulation. In any other case, winding up like Ethan Hawke in Gattaca would be the least of our worries.
Within the meantime, if you wish to see what else is happening within the genomics market with out delivery your DNA off to Massive Brother … we’ve obtained you lined. (How about that!)
It’s referred to as “Imperium.” And in keeping with specialists, “Imperium” is ready to go from nearly unknown … to having 2 billion customers within the subsequent 4 years, launching a inventory market gravy practice nearly no one sees coming.
Click on right here now to find particulars of the No. 1 Imperium funding for 2021.
And with that, thanks all for coming to my paranoid rant fest. Have an amazing weekend, Nice Ones! And you probably have that burning craving that solely extra Nice Stuff can fulfill, it’s best to try our deets right here:
Till subsequent time, keep Nice!
Editor, Nice Stuff