San Francisco 49ers Want Blood for Human Genome Research

NFL Team Partners With Biotech Firm to Crowdsource Blood Cells

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Orig3n is crowdsourcing blood samples at the 49ers home stadium
Orig3n is crowdsourcing blood samples at the 49ers home stadium Credit: ORIG3N

Donating blood is not your typical pre-game ritual but it might be for San Francisco 49er fans this season. The NFL franchise has teamed up with Boston-based biotech company Orig3n, Inc. to support genetic and regenerative medicine research.

Under the "Faithful DNA" program, football fans who donate blood to Orig3n or purchase a LifeProfile genetic assessment will have the chance to win exclusive 49er prizes, such as autographed football gear from the five-time Super Bowl champions or tickets to a "draft day experience."

"This is the first agreement of its kind and we're excited to provide our fans with a unique opportunity to form personal connections with the 49ers in a way that contributes to human genome research," 49ers Chief Operating Officer Ethan Casson stated in a press release.

Orig3n representatives will be stationed within Levi's Stadium at the start of the NFL pre-season in August to collect blood samples for LifeCapsule, the world's largest crowdsourced cell repository for human genome research to find causes and treatments of rare genetically inherited diseases. Samples are used to generate induced pluripotent stem cells that then develop into neurons, heart or liver cells.

"What we're trying to do with LifeCapsule is get that snapshot of humanity and large diverse sets of people into our cell bank," said Orig3n CEO Robin Y. Smith. "This partnership gives us the ability to expand that."

Orig3n sells LifeProfile DNA assessments. Packages range from $29 to $149 for an analysis of their genetic makeup relative to fitness, endurance, strength and metabolism characteristics. The assessments are based on genome studies of athletes from around the world, including rowers, power lifters, marathon runners and more.

Orig3n is debuting a new assessment this fall that compares your genetic makeup to various types of football players. So, for instance, someone could find out if they are more suited for playing quarterback or linebacker.

"If someone has more power output, they're more likely to be a linebacker, as someone who has short bursts of extreme power," Mr. Smith said. "The same thing goes for someone who has lean muscle mass that gives you the ability to have faster reflexes versus more lengthened exertion."

Orig3n will be at 49er home games at Levi's Stadium for the next two years. Ads for Orig3n will appear on the stadium's LED banner, jumbotron, televisions and the 49er website.

The company has previously collected blood samples at Wizard World Comic Con, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and the San Francisco Pride Parade.

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