“Companies that offer analyses of future health risks based on basic genetic tests should be more transparent about the limitations of their predictions” Craig Venter.
In the recent New Scientist, Venter and four colleagues have proposed guidelines for the industry after assessing the results of scans of their own personal genomes as provided by the Californian firms 23andMe and Navigenics.. They found the companies recorded the genetic markers consistently at least 99.7 per cent of the time, but diverged on their assessment of the associated health risks. That’s similar to New Scientist’s comparison earlier this year of the results of scans from 23andMe and a third company, , Decode Genetics of Reykjavik, Iceland. In this case the genetic markers were consistently recorded 99.996 per cent of the time.
“One of the oldest names in computing is joining the race to sequence the genome for $1,000. On Tuesday, I.B.M. plans to give technical details of its effort to reach and surpass that goal, ultimately bringing the cost to as low as $100, making a personal genome cheaper than a ticket to a Broadway play. The project places IBM. squarely in the middle of an international race to drive down the cost of gene sequencing to help move toward an era of personalized medicine. The hope is that tailored genomic medicine would offer significant improvements in diagnosis and treatment.”
How similar is my genome to Bill Gates.. what a scary thought.
At the recent Consumer Genetics Show, Illumina, a genomics technology provider of second-generation sequencing instruments (the Genome Analyzer II), is launching a personal genome sequencing service via a new website; everygenome.com. The website discusses the processes of genotyping and DNA sequencing for individuals, doctors and scientists and will offer its service for $48,000 on its Genome Analyzer II platform. It will conduct the sequencing at its laboratory providing customers with a list of SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphism) and structural variations in their genomes.
Illumina is the first sequencing-technology provider to open its service business to individual customers for non-research purposes and to consider how interpretation and comparison of ones genome could exist on the Iphone.
However Illumina does not provide interpretation services. The analysis and evaluation is where the spin begins, the disease- risk assessments, ancestry analyses and information about inherited traits. It has instead partnered with direct-to-consumer interpretative services offered by 23andMe, Navigenics, Decode Genetics, and Knome. Customers can select from these partners to receive interpretative packages of their data for an additional fee.
As it will only be a few years until the technologies that are being invested in will enable the the sequencing of our genomes to be cheap enough to buy in Boots, very cheap sequencing will rapidly result in a depletion of the sequence generation market as people will only need to get their genome sequenced once to have all the data they need in the world. So it is here that interpretation of this data that will be the “gift that keeps on giving…as new research uncovers more details about the functional portions of the genome and their interactions with environmental risk factors customers will always need their reports updated and re-analysed in increasingly more sophisticated ways.” This analysis will be a constantly evolving self-knowledge portal that can be tapped into as and when for the individual – creating a consistent re-reading of data. (via GenomicFutures)
The FATE perspective
- The FATE institute recognize that this ability to learn more and more about ones genetic makeup and future health can consistently be updated and soon it wil be like reading your own horoscope in the Metro paper. The more and more we learn about ourselves the more we will only listen to what we want to hear, a DNA sequence interpretation will become very much like a coldreading, a form of mentalism wheer you listen out for what you want to hear. And in doing so it may or maynot motivate you to change the way you live.
- The FATE Institute believes that the more personal genome sequencing companies choose to invest in interpretations of SNP data as well as the technology the easier it will be for individuals to be able to choose how and by whom they want their future to be interpreted.
- Those start-ups and corporations who interpret their future each have their own motivations, branding and perspectives that taint the outcomes.They currently offer interpretative services that offer individuals a subscription to a fountain of their own self-knowledge that will continue to provide analysis about their own future lives indefinitely.
- However how will this change as the technology develops further and becomes accessible to all?
- What will be the impacts of an open source democratic approach to personal genome sequencing?
- How will this technology be harnessed if it leaves the large private sector laboratories and enters individuals homes and makeshift laboratories similar to those that are occurring in response to the synbiobrick era?
- Will citizen geneticists be able to sequence their genome and interpret the data in their own home, patent it using Science Commons licenses and sell their services on ebay or Amazon?
- What similarities and differences can we see between this possible future and the open source approach in the software industry and the abilities for the web 2.0 to provide platforms for amateur activists and social entrepreneurs that exists outside of traditional corporations, start ups or top down state structures?