Inside the Quantgene headquarters in Santa Monica, lab supervisor Duong Do says he and his team can process as many as 20,000 COVID tests per day and give results within 12 hours. Turnaround times, he said, are often less than three hours.
“Our company works a lot with productions of movies, TV,” he said.
Do said he has processed over 100,000 COVID tests himself. Quantgene also has a government contract with Orange County and hopes to provide similar services for LA County, especially as it looks to avoid another round of mask mandates.
“Now, we’ve developed a very adaptive infrastructure,” said Jo Bhakdi, the founder and CEO of Quantgene. “We can deploy this anywhere in the country.”
He launched the company in 2015 at UC Berkeley with the mission of detecting disease early and extending healthy human lifespan. But after the pandemic hit, the company pivoted to provide more efficient COVID testing. Bhakdi said unlike some of his competitors, Quantgene does everything in-house and has proven it can handle surges.
“When the virus is the most dangerous, if you get delayed right then, that’s exactly where you need it most. If suddenly your results don’t come in, suddenly everyone’s running around and waiting for the results for three to four days,” he said.
The company can also provide agencies with real-time data on variants that they can use to make more informed public health decisions, but Quantgene also remains dedicated the other half of its business — genomics through its product called Serenity, which takes a personalized approach to preventative medicine.
“Medicine was very good to get your life expectancy up from 40 years, to 60 years, to 80 years, but now it’s dropping 78 years and it’s not going anywhere,” Bhakdi said. “Genomics gives you billions of additional data points that create much better profiles, so we know that (a) patient here has a colon cancer risk that is eight times higher than the average. That (a) person here has a lower colon cancer risk but a higher breast cancer risk.”
The service creates a custom health profile that looks at an individual’s genetics and can give them detailed information about their health risks through in-dept screenings and monitoring.
“The majority of cardiovascular and diabetes deaths or metabolic related deaths and cancer deaths — the vast majority is preventable,” Bhakdi said.
Now, Serenity costs users around $3,000 per year, but Bhakdi expects to cut that price in half every two to three years as technology improves and more people adopt it.
Ultimately, whether COVID or cancer, Quantgene hopes to improve and save lives, one genome at a time.
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the number of COVID tests that Quantgene can process per day. The error has been corrected. (Jan. 5, 2023)