Science

Denver-based App Rolls Out Gene-Testing Kit for Parents

What will your baby look and act like? BABYGlimpse might be able to tell you.
What will your baby look and act like? BABYGlimpse might be able to tell you. Courtesy of BABYGlimpse
It's a question that most parents ponder at some point: What will your children look like? Will they be athletic, lactose-intolerant?

Denver-based HumanCode may hold the answers. Its BABYglimpse is a new app that parents can use to determine basic traits like the color of a baby's skin, eyes and hair, and even more complex behavioral traits — like whether a kid will be prone to problem-solving or act more confrontational.

For $350, customers can find out what is in their "DNA locker," as HumanCode CEO Chris Glode puts it, by taking a simple saliva DNA sample and mailing a tube of it to the company for analysis. Scientists then analyze the sample, and in two to four weeks, you and your partner can check your phones and see for yourselves what your baby could look like and how it could act.

HumanCode is the latest company to emerge in the personal genomics market, which has grown rapidly in the last decade. In fact, Glode says he got the idea for BABYglimpse when he and his wife sat down to use 23andMe, a company that also uses saliva samples to test for the presence of disease-influencing DNA sequences.

"With most medical DNA tests, the experience is often filled with anxiety", says Glode, referring to the array of genomic testing currently offered for medically diagnostic reasons. "The only response will be 'Oh, no,' when you find out your baby could be at risk for a genetic disease, or you get a sense of relief when results come back negative."

So Glode left the serious conversations to other companies and instead focused on showing potential parents the exciting and joyful aspects of family planning.

"Our vision is that you and your partner could have a very fun conservation, saying, 'Oh, they’re going to be great athletes,' for example," Glode explains. "It's mostly for fun and entertainment purposes. We have tried very hard to make sure that you won’t get results that will cause you to make family and parenting decisions."

HumanCode has contracted with Helix; the biological-analysis company works with multiple software firms to bring DNA-minded consumers a wide and range of products, including Vinome, which suggests wines that you would enjoy based upon your DNA, and Dot One, which develops warm and fuzzy representations of your DNA sequence in the form of "DNA-personalized scarfs."

Glode explains that Helix holds on to your DNA data for life, so BABYglimpse customers only have to take one DNA sample.

Helix analyzes exomes, which Glode describes as the aspects of DNA that are understood to impact how we look and who we become. BABYglimpse can offer suggestions on about twenty physical and personality traits — to an extent. Glode acknowledges that there is a degree of uncertainty with any DNA analysis.

Glode is a veteran of the Front Range startup community. He's best known for his work with Map My Fitness and Map My Run, which he sold to sports apparel giant Under Armour in 2013. After serving as a development executive there for several years, he's excited to make his next mark on the tech world.

"We’re not aware of anything out there like it," he says of BABYGlimpse.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Grant Stringer has covered everything from high-powered energy politics at the Capitol to reproductive rights and homelessness. He can typically be found running to press conferences in the heat of the summer while playing Fugazi and Ty Segall songs as loud as is humanly possible.
Contact: Grant Stringer