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From Bordeaux to San Diego: Portable Genomics on the Move

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portable devices like the iPad and iPhone, which use display technology that’s well suited for what Merel describes as Portable Genomics’ “unique graphical user interface.”

“We won’t provide any tests, just a better visualization of test results,” he says. “We are anticipating the need for learning and leveraging genomic information into actionable healthcare and lifestyle adjustments. We want to be a pioneer in providing genomic medicine tools on portable devices, anticipating the $100 genome era.”

Portable Genomics intends to initially provide information to subscribers for a limited number of established genomic markers. The second step, Merel says, “is to provide a full genome browser on portable devices. This solution will decipher client information and push PG knowledge database information, upgraded in real time, to the client’s portable device.”

Merel, who works at the Plateforme Technologique d’Innovation Biomedicale, a research center affiliated with the Hospital of Bordeaux, described his vision for the French newspaper Le Monde, which published a story about Portable Genomics on Dec. 29. He says the story triggered a wave of media interest in France, which has not been entirely friendly. (Ordering genetic tests online is prohibited in France, punishable by a $15,000 Euros fine and a year in jail, Merel told me.)

Le Monde suggests that soon people will be able to carry their genetic code like music playlists, or photo albums in a smartphone or iPad. Le Monde also says that institutions in San Diego and Seattle have enthusiastically encouraged Merel. (If you read French, take a look at page 12 of this pdf.)

“We have applied for IP in the field of genome visualization on electronic devices, have 1st a non-functional prototype on the iPhone, and a 2nd prototype on the iPad,” Merel writes in his e-mail. “Apple, in Europe, has expressed an interest into our project. A big telecom company and a big pharma, in San Diego, have also expressed some interest into this concept. So we look forward to have discussions with partners, that we are of course, in need of.”

Merel also lists his specific goals:

1) Get the Entrepreneur US Immigration Visa

2) Present our business plan to investors during 1st quarter

3) Raise funds during 2nd quarter

4) Hire this summer 8 people in La Jolla to develop a 1st product by the end of this year that will help to visualize DTC-Genomics [direct to consumer] results on the iPhone/iPad.

5) Our major goal is to have our full genome browser on smartphones by end of 2012, time at which, I think, we’ll be close to the $100 genome.

In the meantime, Merel says he is going back and forth, between Bordeaux and La Jolla, and laying plans to meet with prospective U.S. investors this month.

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