Craig Venter, genome pioneer, targets age-related diseases
Craig Venter announced Tuesday he has collected a total of $70 million from numerous investors in order to launch HLI (Human Longevity, Inc.). The goal of the organization is to build the largest sequencing project focused on gathering information on the “complete” human genotype, phenotype and microbiome. This data will then be utilized to design “cell-based treatments” that would extend and improve the quality of human life.
The new company will be chaired by Craig Venter who will also be the CEO. The vice chairmen will be Robert Hariri of Celgene and Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation. HLI has already purchased two HiSeq X Ten gene sequencing systems from Illumina Inc., a well-known manufacturer of DNA sequencing machines and have optioned to purchase three additional machines at a later date.
Venter told the press: “This will be one of the largest data studies in the history of science and medicine.” He added that the company will not only collect whole genome data but will also gather genetic data on the many microbes living on and in human beings. Venter and company believe they can create better probiotics, superior diagnostics and exceptional drugs to improve health and wellness through gaining a true understanding of microbiomes.
Additionally, HLI will gather information on metabolome–the many biochemicals, fats and metabolites in the human body—in order to learn about the various circulating chemicals that improve health and influence how drugs work. Venter’s first target will be some of the most challenging age-connected diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, obesity and even heart and liver diseases.
Venter stated: “Cancer is one of the most actionable areas right now with genomic-based therapies. (It is) just the first of a multitude of diseases we will be sequencing this year.” To that end, HLI has already formed a partnership with the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego to take on cancer. They hope to sequence the genomes of patients and run complete genome sequences on their tumors.
Other collaborators include the biochemical profiling company Metabolon Inc. of North Carolina and of course the nonprofit J. Craig Venter Institute. Venter concluded: “We’re hoping to make numerous new discoveries in preventive medicine. We think this will have a huge impact on changing the cost of medicine.”
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)