Business 22 January 2018
When we find out that we're pregnant, we start imagining so many things. What will our child look like? How will their little personality be? What name will suit them perfectly? We have so many questions to be answered and the root of it all involves us just wanting to have a healthy baby. Nothing else matters at all.
While there are certain tests that are routine during pregnancy, they only tell us so much. So we sit and wait for nine months (typically more) until we meet our baby.
And of course, to add to our wandering minds, during our pregnancy, we're bombarded with so many inquiries about our families health and genes on both mom and dad's side - which makes our worry only worsen. It honestly would seem like nothing short of a miracle if we were able to detect genetic-related traits, so we would know exactly what this sweet baby growing inside us would inherit.
Well, this extremely advanced technology is literally at our fingertips now through a new App called BABYGlimpse and the wealth of knowledge that you are provided with is truly groundbreaking.
Photo Courtesy of ThoughtCo
The founders include Chris Glode, Co-founder & CEO, Ryan Trunck, Co-founder & VP of Engineering, and Jennifer Lescallett, Co-founder & Commercial Development - and each and every one is equally excited about the advancements that this technology brings to couples everywhere.
“When HumanCode introduced the concept of BABYGlimpse, we were immediately intrigued. It provided a unique avenue to tap into the excitement and wonder that comes along with growing a family," said Justin Kao, co-founder and SVP of Helix. “BABYGlimpse helps couples explore the bright side of genetics, creating a fun and enlightening conversation around their future."
They also shared with me, “each of the founders had different experiences that led to the creation of HumanCode and BABYGlimpse. For me, having my second child, and getting the film from our standard first-trimester ultrasound stimulated my curiosity. I immediately began using existing consumer DNA products to see if I could get a side by side view of my genetics with my wife, and project what the baby might inherit. After getting frustrated with how hard it was to do this, I got excited about the product - solving a problem that I experienced as a parent. For Jen, it's something that she had thought about for years, as a mother of three and with two decades of experience in genomics - she saw the potential for a company and product in this space. For Ryan, as a person considering starting a family, he was fascinated by the idea that genomics could provide a glimpse into what the future of his family could hold," as a group.
Photo Courtesy of Cerhvalencia
The process has been so profoundly personal to all of the creators that we can only imagine how many people will be equally intrigued by what this simple test can do and how much this knowledge will really impact couples.
It's the first DNA-powered app for couples to discover and explore the genetic-related traits their children may inherit. The new app was developed in collaboration with Helix, a personal genomics company, that recently launched the first online marketplace for DNA-powered products. Basically, it gives parents perspective through a fun and informative preview of what their baby might inherit from them. The test as a whole explores more than 20 different traits, including ancestry, physical appearance, and wellness-related conditions.
How does it work? Through single at-home collection kits that require a simple saliva sample from both parents. “The at-home collection kits contain instructions, and a small plastic vial to collect the saliva sample. It takes about 5 minutes to provide the sample and register the kit, and then the customer simply pops it in the mail in the prepaid return package included," the founders shared with me.
The sample is then processed in Helix's CLIA- and CAP-accredited next-generation sequencing lab. The results are securely stored and they provide HumanCode access to the portion of the genome that pertains to the information delivered in BABYGlimpse. The app then utilizes a proprietary computational method to combine the couple's DNA results and make predictions on the possible traits of their future child. The results are delivered to couples through the BABYGlimpse app for iPhone, or via a secure customer web portal.
Photo Courtesy of TheTrentOnline
“We built BABYGlimpse as an inspiring and optimistic way for two people to understand their own genetics, and what they might pass on to their offspring," said Chris Glode, CEO of HumanCode. “Today's couples have so many questions and curiosities during the process of creating a family—there's so much advice and information, but little of it is personal to them. We want to help families venture beyond the classic black-and-white ultrasound photo and gender reveal to learn more about themselves and their genetics. BABYGlimpse adds to the excitement and anticipation of building a family. We call it 'sunshine science'."
Having just had a baby a year ago myself I was beyond curious to see if this might be something that would end up as a regular part of our prenatal care in the United States. Having so many different curiosities about that sweet little babe growing inside, it really would be something that put so many parents mind's at ease - especially when it comes to all those wellness related traits. “Given that it's not a medical test, in it's current state, probably not. We are open to the idea that it could eventually be included as a fun and informative companion experience to some of the medically diagnostic tests, but we don't want customers, physicians, or genetic counselors to be perceiving BABYGlimpse as something that is intended to be a medical test. It's really designed to be a fun, sharable, informative and educational experience. We don't test for any genetic disorders and don't currently have plans to," the team informed me.
If you're looking to get your hands on the BABYGlimpse, it is available for $349.98 on Helix.com, and includes Exome + DNA sequencing for two people and unlimited access to the application on the secure HumanCode website or iPhone app.
Being stared at by strangers is something I have become very accustomed to. Not because I am a beautiful, ethereal being that catches everyone's attention (but I will take it if that's what you're thinking), but in the way that I am a Black woman, a Black person, and people tend to notice my presence. I don't think there is a Black person out there that can deny knowing what it's like to be stared at by a random person.