Entrepreneurs

For $25,000, this company will predict the future state of your health

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What if you could look decades into the future and predict the state of your physical health? Would you make different choices today?

Geneticist J. Craig Venter wants to help you do that. Venter is the co-founder and executive chairman of Human Longevity, a San Diego-based company focused on providing gene sequencing services commercially and working on building the world's largest database of sequenced genomes.

Venter says the company is collecting "tens of millions of genomes" and using machine learning to gain insights and help customers create proactive health strategies based on the information they learn. He says that humans all differ approximately 3 percent from each other — but knowing the makeup of that unique percentage can be crucial.

"Every day we're making major discoveries because of all this data," Venter told the hosts of "Squawk Box" on Wednesday morning.

Visitors to Health Nucleus, the company's clinical research arm, receive information about their risks for cardiovascular, cancer, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. Patients undergo a full-day assessment — including cognitive testing, an electrocardiogram and an MRI — that can cost anywhere from $4,900 to $25,000.

Venter says the process has helped reveal that our cultural understanding of what a healthy person is has little to do with science, and is often inaccurate.

J. Craig Venter
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J. Craig Venter

"We've shown that health is kind of an illusion. It's based on ancient things — if you look OK and feel OK you must be healthy," he says.

He reports that 40 percent of the people who've undergone the company's screening process have "something pretty serious wrong" and that 2.5 percent of people who've undergone the company's screening process "have a major tumor that they don't know about," discovered as early as stage zero. Armed with information, patients can seek treatment for current ailments, prioritize lifestyle changes and be vigilant about screening for diseases for which they have an elevated risk.

Venter says his own prostate cancer was diagnosed at the clinic. He also learned he had an elevated risk of heart disease and a high percentage of liver fat, prompting him to start taking a Statin drug and lose 40 pounds.

Still, he says, even with all of the information Health Nucleus has collected, what remains unknown about human health is immense.

"Most things we will know in the future about us as a species," says Venter, "are to be discovered."