$25K exam includes full-body MRI, cardio CT—but critics question its usefulness

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Imagine if for $25,000, patients could receive comprehensive diagnostic and full body scans to screen for cancer or another anomaly and potentially find it in its earliest stage to treat it?

Human Longevity Inc., or HLI, a startup company founded by Craig Venter, is offering the comprehensive set of tests, known collectively as Health Nucleus, which includes a full-body MRI scan, a cardio CT scan and cognitive examsn.

Venter, known for his work in mapping the human genome, says 40 percent of the 1,000 customers of Health Nucleus have learned they have a serious disease.

Age-related conditions requiring immediate attention were only found in 8 percent of customers—though Venter believes there is some ambiguity around that claim as it is hard to define “immediate attention.”

But Health Nucleus has its share of critics, including physicians, who say this type of testing is not useful and can be overwhelming with the amount of data produced. Furthermore, many argue that other government-backed institutions are far ahead of his company.

"I don't like the idea of selling a product by scaring people," Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist at the University of California San Francisco, said to the Chicago Tribune. "Maybe your risk of developing atrial fibrillation over a lifetime is higher, but it's not clear today that this is valuable information. Your heart's not going to explode."

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