Is It Time to Bet on Genomics?

Is It Time To Bet On Personal Genomics

Forbes has an interesting article by the reputed Genome Scientist/Technologist and Stanford professor, Ron Davis arguing for putting our bet on the success of genomics. It is a good article, but surprisingly just focused on one startup company.

Is it time to bet on Genomics?

Hell. yeah even if there is more hype on it to deliver.

The field of genomics is at the right time to bet on it to deliver. The rapid development and deployment of low cost genome sequencing (300 million a decade ago to $1,000 in a year for one genome) alone is enough to put our hopes on Genomics to change the health care industry.

In US, everyone with insurance goes through some kind of $1000 tests many times in their lives. Why can’t we spend on a one time genome sequencing and use it for prevention and common good? This does not mean that we have found a way to solve all challenges in putting the genome data to clinical settings yet.

As Ron Davis pointed out, the biggest challenge of all lies in taming the genome data to clinical and diagnostic settings. The quite revolution that is about to begin is not just the genomics data, but the genome data plus the truck loads of phenotype data from crowd sourced approach will be the key to unlock the genomic puzzle. The personal genomics company like 23andMe has already begun to tap on that.

Genome Sequencing and Cloud Computing Vs Internet and Mobile Technologies

Ron Davis also compared the state of genomics to the state of internet economics in 1994. It is an interesting comparison and the situtations
are kind of comparable and rises interesting questions.

Then in 1994, the internet for consumers was new and evolving and now the sequencing is new and evolving rapidly. Now the internet economy is huge and will personal genomics economy follow a similar path?

But then in 1994, internet had an unknown friend, mobile technology. Mobile technology was also rapidly evolving simultaneously with internet. Pretty soon they found each other and living happily ever after.

Who will be Personal genomics’ phone buddy? No one is going to carry giga load data with themselves. One good bet for a personal genomics buddy is a secure, reliable, and able cloud computing. Just like mobile technology in 90’s, cloud computing is new and slowly getting acceptance and has a huge potential for big genome data.

However, for personal genomics to succeed, it needs more than just one buddy.  Crowd sourced phenotype data to go with genome data and the “science” to harness all the data will be the best friends personal genomics can have. That is where a lots of unknown factors that can impact on the success of personal genomics are present.

And, just like in 1994, one of the biggest concerns now for personal genomics is the issue of privacy. However, the issue of privacy in personal genomics is a completely different beast. No one has any idea on the implications of collecting and using the genome data.

That is why studies like PGen by Pathway Genomics and Sanger Institute’s GenomEthics, on what people expect from personal genomics and how the data can be put to use, are just a beginning.

Speak Your Mind