Having a sample stored at some time point in your life may be worth the effort even if you do not get a genome analysis done on it today. Most people store personal items at home for years and even in rented storage space paying a monthly storage fee. Your DNA sample can be stored free (we do not charge for storage) and it may benefit you a whole lot more than most stored items in your rented storage space or closet.
What are the benefits of sample banking?
- For Traceability and Identification: If you have a sample banked, someone in your family will know about it or should know about it. If you go on a trip and die in an accident or are missing due to any reason, you now have a banked sample. It is fairly common for schools to advise parents to collect samples of their children and store it at their home, particularly in a freezer. What we are recommending is that you collect a sample and store it with us so that it is safe and available at any time. We can isolate DNA from those samples when requested and perform any kind of DNA analysis including whole genome sequencing. Our method does not require refrigeration or freezing. We store samples at room temperature.
- For Health Monitoring: If your doctor or other healthcare professional advises you to do a genome analysis at some point in your life, then a previously stored sample can be analyzed along with a current sample to determine if changes have occurred. It will be like comparing a mammogram or PSA level taken today to a mammogram or PSA level taken 5 years back. We will have software that will allow you to evaluate the change and flag the changes. This is how the Personal Genetic Scan (PG Scan) we offer, will work.
- For Future Therapy Applications: This is the most compelling reason – to be proactive. Imagine if you have a child born today and you stored a sample (cheek swab). Imagine this child grows up and 70 years down the road, develops a form of cancer. As you know, today there are already many treatments for cancer that involve gene editing (see DNA Editing). In the next few decades, you can imagine that these types of therapies will be so advanced that most cancers may be treated this way. What a great blessing to have your own reference genome (instead of some public reference genome) to edit the sequence back to your own normal sequence! Storing a sample is all that is needed today. No need to sequence it because in a few years sequencing technologies will also be more advanced and can look at the entire genome faster and at much lower cost than what it is today. We believe that computing and bio-informatics will also be much more advanced that 3.2 billion bases of sequencing data can be used and stored lot more efficiently. Today, if you do a whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis of your genome, you will need about 150 GB of storage space.
We believe that the future of medicine is genomic medicine and what we have outlined here will be normal in the future. But, we also believe that personalized medicine will benefit people who planned for their children’s future today, and a simple sample collection (see item below) will be significantly beneficial.
- For Future Diagnostic Applications: This is relevant to anyone collecting a sample at any age and then storing it (with or without genome analysis). This is also relevant to children that are born today or are at least less than 5 years old. It will be advisable to collect samples at periodic intervals like every 5 years, whatever age you start. If a new disease or health condition develops in the individual over the years, then going back to the earliest banked sample (or data) and comparing data from different samples stored at different time frames should reveal interesting progression in case the disease has any genetic underpinning. For example, the incorporation of a new virus into the genome (many viruses like Epstein Barr Virus, Raus Sarcoma Virus, HIV etc. incorporate into the genome of humans) may be causing a disease, or the incorporation of a transposon (also known to cause cancers), as well as other changes (all somatic changes over time); all of these can be monitored. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of these samples in the future will be incredibly useful to the scientific and medical community as well as to the person who stored the sample. Such an effort (monitoring an individual genome over the years) has never been accomplished before and if done properly can create a whole new therapeutic and diagnostic opportunity that is purely personal. It will benefit the earliest donor of samples the most because sequencing and editing technologies and cost will be very different 20 years from now.
How is a sample banked/stored?
Whether it is for banking (storage) or for genome analysis, we will send you a sample collection kit. All our products (services) have the same sample collection kit and procedure. Our sample storage/banking kit is called The BioBank Box. It will come with all instructions to collect and ship samples to us.
In brief, you will swab your cheek (two times) into two separate tubes that are provided. Also, in the kit there will be a card that is the same size as a credit card. This card has an account number which is unique. You can use this account to store samples for yourself or for any individual. You can also use a Anchor account to store samples for your entire family. Instructions are provided in the kit on how to activate this account with us. Once we get the samples, the two swabs are checked for quality of sample collected. Once the sample passes the QC (quality control) check, we will put the swab back in the tube, place the tube in a different plastic bag and seal it for long term storage with a procedure we have developed. If sample does not pass QC, we will notify you and send you another kit free of charge. Once sealed, the samples can be stored at room temperature for an extended period of time.
How much does it cost?
We do not charge you for banking your sample. In other words, there is no monthly or yearly recurring charges. You will have to pay to get the initial sample collection kit which is priced at $60 per kit (retail). This price includes shipping collected kit back to us (pre-paid shipping label enclosed) as well as the items in the kit needed to collect the sample. Note that the price of this kit can change at any time.