Acorn Biolabs wants consumers to pay them to store genetic material in a bet that the increasing advances in targeted genetic therapies will yield better healthcare results down the line.
The company’s pitch is to “Save young cells today, live a longer, better, tomorrow.” It’s a gamble on the frontiers of healthcare technology that has managed to net the company $3.3 million in seed financing from some of Canada’s busiest investors.
For the Toronto-based company, the pitch isn’t just around banking genetic material — a practice that’s been around for years — it’s about making that process cheaper and easier.
Acorn has come up with a way to collect and preserve the genetic material contained in hair follicles, giving its customers a way to collect full-genome information at home rather than having to come in to a facility and getting bone marrow drawn (the practice at one of its competitors, Forever Labs).
“We have developed a proprietary media that cells are submerged in that maintains the viability of those cells as they’re being transported to our labs for processing,” says Acorn Biolabs chief executive Dr. Drew Taylor.
“Rapid advancements in the therapeutic use of cells, including the ability to grow human tissue sections, cartilage, artificial skin and stem cells, are already being delivered. Entire heart, liver and kidneys are really just around the corner. The urgency around collecting, preserving and banking youthful cells for future use is real and freezing the clock on your cells will ensure you can leverage them later when you need them,” Taylor said in a statement.
Typically, the cost of banking a full genome test is roughly $2,000 to $3,000, and Acorn says they can drop that cost to less than $1,000. Beyond the cost of taking the sample and storing it, Acorn says it will reduce to roughly $100 a year the fees to store such genetic materials.
It’s important to note that healthcare doesn’t cover any of this. It’s a voluntary service for those neurotic enough or concerned enough about the future of healthcare and their potential health.
There’s also no services that Acorn will provide on the back end of the storage… yet.
“What people do need to realize is that there is power with that data that can improve healthcare. Down the road we will be able to use that data to help people collect that data and power studies,” says Taylor.
The $3.3 million the company raised came from Real Ventures, Globalive Technology, Pool Global Partners and Epic Capital Management and other undisclosed investors.
“Until now, any live cell collection solutions have been highly expensive, invasive and often painful, as well as being geographically limited to specialized clinics,” said Anthony Lacavera, founder and chairman at Globalive. “Acorn is an industry-leading example of how technology can bring real innovation to enable future healthcare solutions that will have meaningful impact on people’s wellbeing and longevity, while at the same time — make it easy, affordable and frictionless for everyone.”