Radar Theme: Personal Genomics

[This is part of a series of posts that briefly describe the trends were currently tracking here at O’Reilly: 1, 2]

Genetic analysis software and hardware used to be very expensive, only for professionals—now it’s trickling down to ProAms, and soon (under 5 years) will be widespread for consumer applications. This changes how drugs are developed and applied (don’t test against 500 people and say whether it “works”, figure out which genetic markers indicate the people it works for and sell to those), how diseases/conditions are diagnosed and treated, and our sense of self. Expect “interesting” (in the Chinese curse sense) interactions with privacy, workplace relations, and even parenthood.

Watchlist: 23andme, Hugh Reinhoff’s “My Daughter’s DNA“.

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  • Folks interested in this topic may find SNPedia and Promethease interesting examples of the ProAm community.

  • Myers

    There has been great fanfare regarding the utility of genetic tests and the possibilities personal genomics present for personalized medicine. However, there has been a tremendous lack of evidence-based research that substantiates the benefits of genetic testing. Additionally, the risks posed to consumers have been kept relatively quiet.

    While there have been very exciting developments in genome research and genetics, there are outstanding questions that need to be addressed before consumers start demanding genetic tests. Readers may enjoy an article posted by Diane Allingham-Hawkins (www.genengnews.com/articles/chitem/aspx?/aid=2544)who discusses the risks of jumping on the bandwagon of genetic testing.

  • Good article on this topic at MIT Tech Review:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/21250/?a=f

    Basic summary?

    1) There’s not much value in these tests yet — the statistics are just too complicated; and the tests are not clinically validated.

    2) Even so, CA and NY regulators are way out of line trying to “clamp down” on personal genomics services.