Health

Gene by Gene takes aim at 23andme with Arpeggi acquisition

Arpeggi’s team: Nir Leibovich, Jason Wang, David Mittelman

Above: Arpeggi’s team: Nir Leibovich, Jason Wang, David Mittelman

Arpeggi, a startup formed by a group of entrepreneurs and scientists to accelerate research into the human genome, has been scooped by up Gene by Gene.

The combined entity is positioned to be a major competitor to DNA testing services like 23andme. Its goal is to offer consumers affordable access to in-depth information about their genetic health, so they can take steps to prevent disease.

Doctors and other care providers can also use the data to more accurately diagnose patients and prescribe the optimal course of treatment.

“Raw data in a machine isn’t useful in a clinical setting,” Arpeggi’s chief scientist David Mittleman, told me. “We have solved that problem.”

Arpeggi was one of a small number of companies selected for Startup Health’s three year accelerator program, set up in conjunction with General Electric (GE), the industrial giant that has amped up its investment in the digital health sector. Arpeggi was founded in 2012 by Zynga alumni Jason Wang and Nir Leibovich.

The startup was scooped up extremely quickly, even by startup standards. Mittleman said the acquisition made sense, as the team had planned to raise venture financing to fund a research lab. Gene by Gene will offer them a lab at the Houston headquarters, where the Arpeggi team plans to relocate later this month.

Under the terms of the deal, GCAT, a Arpeggi’s service for scientists to compare genome sequencing tools, will remain available to the community for free. The companies have not disclosed any of the financials — including the final sum for the acquisition.

In their new roles at Gene by Gene, the Arpeggi team will focus the bulk of their efforts on consumers. Gene by Gene has a substantial base of people using its genetic testing services, so Mittleman will have plenty of data to grapple with.

When asked about his goals for the coming year, Mittleman immediately hit back, “Our intention is to offer people the best reconstructive model of their genome.”

If the team succeeds, its technology would help people understand the origins of their family, and their medical history. Researchers and clinicians could uncover whether patients will respond better to one form of treatment or another.

Rafael Torres, Senior Managing Director of GE Ventures Healthcare stressed that this is a transitional time for genomics testing services.

“The deluge of data generated from genomic testing and the ability to store, analyze, and interpret it efficiently has been a bottleneck for organizations focused on large scale sequencing. Arpeggi’s solution provides an infrastructure that helps human genomic and bioinformatics companies get the most out of their data,” he said.