NEW YORK & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GenePeeks, Inc., a genetic technology company focused on pre-conception risk prediction, announced today it has been issued patent No. 8,620,594, titled “Method and System for Generating a Virtual Progeny Genome,” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent covers innovative algorithms that simulate the genetic interactions occurring naturally in human reproduction in order to create hypothetical “digital babies.”
GenePeeks is combining next-generation DNA sequencing with molecular modeling to estimate the risk of severe pediatric diseases in hypothetical future children. The patented process, invented by Lee Silver, GenePeeks cofounder and professor at Princeton University, generates thousands of digital sperm or eggs, each containing a single copy of each of the hundreds of sequenced genes from each potential parent. The digital sperm and eggs are joined together to produce a pool of thousands of hypothetical “digital baby” genomes that are each assessed through National Institutes of Health clinical databases and molecular modeling to determine whether they express any of the 500 heritable conditions covered by the analysis. Finally, the process integrates this information to determine the risk profile of prospective parents.
The process anticipates complex genetic interactions in hypothetical progeny rather than simply adding together the test results of prospective parents, the current standard for reproductive risk analysis. The result is a highly sensitive but non-diagnostic estimate of disease risk in a future child’s virtual genome. Future applications will also leverage the technology’s unique ability to assess a hypothetical child’s risk for complex diseases that involve clusters of genes such as schizophrenia, severe autism and other developmental disorders.
“This issuance of this patent marks a key milestone for GenePeeks and validates our unique approach to reproductive risk,” said Anne Morriss, CEO of GenePeeks. “Our process allows us to analyze thousands of potential genetic combinations for millions of mutations that could affect the health of a future child, giving parents a powerful new way to safeguard their growing families.”
GenePeeks is focused initially on serving the donor sperm market, with a database of DNA sequences from FDA-qualified donors. The company’s innovative donor filtering service, currently in the final stages of testing and launching in Spring 2014, will digitally combine potential donor and client DNA information, then evaluate the resulting virtual genomes to generate a unique personalized catalogue of risk-reduced donor matches for each individual client. The process will be layered on top of the industry’s current disease screening protocol, which determines a donor’s carrier status for just a handful of recessive diseases.
GenePeeks is a genetic information company focused on identifying inherited disease risk in future generations before conception. GenePeeks digitally combines the genetic information of two potential parents, using innovative algorithms to simulate the genetic interactions that occur naturally in human reproduction.
Using this technology, GenePeeks creates and analyzes thousands of hypothetical “digital babies” to uncover disease risk impossible to see with existing pre-pregnancy screening tools. The company’s initial focus is the donor sperm industry. GenePeeks has developed a safe, non-invasive process for helping sperm bank clients avoid donor matches that carry a high risk of passing on life-threatening and life-altering conditions.
Company founder and CEO Anne Morriss understands the urgent need for better genetic information. Her son was born with a rare disorder that could have been identified with GenePeeks technology. She joined co-founder Lee Silver, Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, in launching the company to help families protect their future children. GenePeeks is privately held, with offices in New York, N.Y. and Cambridge, Mass. For more information, visit www.genepeeks.com.