Ancestry Swerves into 23andMe’s Lane With DNA Health Tests: Brainstorm Health

October 15, 2019, 11:45 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

Just in time for the holidays—the most lucrative time of year for at-home DNA testing firms—Ancestry is stepping up its rivalry with 23andMe.

On Tuesday, Ancestry announced that it’s expanding its genealogy-oriented, consumer genomic testing business into the DNA health test sphere.

The details are still a bit sparse. Here’s what the company said in a release: “AncestryHealth is launching with two new services. AncestryHealth Core, a one-time, array-based service, and AncestryHealth Plus, a membership service using next generation sequencing (NGS) technology, to help people start on the path toward better health for themselves and their families.” These would reportedly encompass hereditary health risks for diseases like certain cancers and heart disease.

Now, there’s still a key difference between the new services Ancestry will provide and 23andMe’s health test products: Ancestry has a different process of selling to consumers. It’s the difference between “direct-to-consumer” sales versus “laboratory developed tests”; while both companies can sell their products to consumers, in Ancestry’s case, the process “includes filling out a health history questionnaire” before “an independent group of board-certified physicians and genetic counselors review the answers and, if approved, order the health test and review results when they are ready.” The specific type of DNA testing technology that Ancestry will use will also differ from what 23andMe offers, according to Wired.

23andMe, which has more than 10 million customers and has been cleared by the FDA to sell its own DNA-based health reports for a range of conditions directly to consumers (no docs involved) is prepping for its lucrative holiday season—including through a new store in a Silicon Valley mall.

Read on for the day’s news.

Correction: A previous version of this post states that Ancestry cannot sell these new tests directly to consumers—Ancestry can sell direct to consumers, albeit in a different process from 23andMe, and we’ve updated the post to reflect the clarification.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


Livongo partners with VSP to tackle diabetes-related eye disease. Digital chronic disease management firm Livongo is teaming up with VSP Vision Care—an eye-focused health insurer—to expand offerings to its customers who face vision problems related to conditions like diabetes. "Vision is an important piece of the healthcare experience for people living with chronic conditions, and especially diabetes," said Livongo President Dr. Jennifer Schneider in a statement. Livongo, like other digital health platforms, uses connected devices that can transmit data to health coaches who can then personalize recommendations for customers with chronic conditions.


New Sanofi manufacturing plant key to company's efficiency plans. French pharma giant Sanofi is betting that a massive new manufacturing facility in Massachusetts—some 100,000 square feet and five years and $320 million in the making—could help the company streamline its "biologic" drug production capacity and give it a leg-up on rivals. The facility will use something called "continuous manufacturing," meaning that production will be a continuous rather than something conducted in batches. It's a bit in the weeds of how drug-making works. But it underscores Sanofi's bet that this is the wave of the future. (BioPharma Dive)


Will tonight's presidential debate feature health care for gig workers? Another Democratic presidential debate—and Ray Levy-Ueda asks an intriguing question: Will the candidates discuss health care issues beyond "Medicare for All," including the state of health benefits for gig workers? "While health care plans are reflections of the current needs of the American public—proposals for mental health care coverage or caps on prescription drug prices—few plans explicitly mention a growing segment of the workforce who would gain from the expansion of health care or potential introduction of a nationalized system: gig workers," writes Ray in his thought-provoking piece(Fortune)


E-Cigarette Sales Slow Dramatically in Wake of Vaping-Related Health Warningsby Bloomberg

Why Most Companies Are Failing at Artificial Intelligenceby Jonathan Vanian

Investors Are Pouring Money into Marijuana Software. Here's the Latest Startup to Get Fundingby Jeff John Roberts

Is China Serious About Opening Its Economy to Foreign Competition? by The Associated Press

Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet