From Scientific American:
There isn’t much (or, really, any) science to back it up. But it’s got a very big name in its corner.
Vinome just inked a deal with a startup called Helix, which in turn is backed by the world’s biggest DNA sequencing company, the powerhouse known as Illumina. For the past 15 years, Illumina has been selling machines that can quickly decode the human genome. Medical researchers around the world use them. But the company wants to conquer the consumer market, too. That’s why it spent $100 million to launch Helix, which teams up with app developers who can find creative ways to use a customer’s genetic data.
Such as selling them wine.
For about $65 per bottle, Vinome promises to pick out “great wines that are perfectly paired to you” based on an analysis of 10 genetic variants in your DNA, collected via saliva samples. The company—which is based, of course, in Northern California’s wine country—even incorporated the distinctive double helix of DNA into its logo of a corkscrew.
Medical geneticist Dr. Jim Evans isn’t impressed.
“It’s just completely silly. Their motto of ‘A little science and a lot of fun’ would be more accurately put as ‘No science and a lot of fun,’” said Evans, who’s a professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina.
“I’d put this in the same category as DNA matching to find your soulmate,” he said. “We just simply don’t know enough about the genetics of taste to do this on any accurate basis.”
Vinome is just one in a growing wave of targeted consumer genetic tests, which promise to deliver insights about nutrition, weight, and athletic training based on analysis of cheek cells, blood, or saliva. The tests could greatly expand the market for DNA analysis, to the benefit of companies like Illumina, which lately has been struggling to meet …