On October 26, 2014, 60 Minutes aired a story called "Breeding Out Disease" that included a segment about GenePeeks, a company that uses genetic information from prospective parents to make thousands of "digital babies" and "calculate the risk of two people conceiving a child with any one of 500 severe recessive pediatric disorders." When the topic of GenePeeks' patents came up, that piqued my interest, and I decided to investigate further.
The GenePeeks Patents
A search of the USPTO database identified two patents assigned to GenePeeks: U.S. 8,620,594 and U.S. 8.805,620, which stemmed from the same application.
The '594 patent includes method and systems claims. Independent method claim 1 recites:
A method of generating a virtual progeny genome ... for a potential progeny, the method implemented by a computer processor executing program instructions, the method comprising the steps of: (a) using the processor, generating a first haplopath ... including a single allele ... of a genotype at each of a plurality of loci from a first genome profile of a first potential parent; (b) using the processor, generating a second haplopath ... including a single allele of a genotype at each of the plurality of loci ... from a second genome profile of a second potential parent; (c) using the processor, combining said first haplopath ... with said second haplopath ... to generate a virtual progeny genome sampling ... including two alleles ... of a genotype at each of the plurality of loci ... for a potential progeny; (d) using the processor, comparing genotypes of said virtual progeny genome sampling to one or more databases of genotype-phenotype associations to determine a likelihood of expression of one or more phenotypes for the potential progeny having said virtual progeny genome sampling; and (e) repeating steps (a)-(d), for a plurality of first and second haplopaths from, respectively, the first and second potential parents ... to generate a virtual progeny genome ... including a plurality of the virtual progeny genome samplings ... ; and, (f) generating for the potential progeny of said first potential parent and said second potential parent probabilities or probability distributions for said potential progeny expressing said one or more phenotypes based on the likelihoods determined for the plurality of virtual progeny genome samplings in the virtual progeny genome ....
The '620 patent includes method and systems claims. Independent method claim 1 recites:...