Consumer Genomics Is Transforming Healthcare
With people reeling from the reality of rising healthcare costs, it is easy to think that there is no hope in sight to obtain affordable healthcare for everybody. However, a fundamental change in healthcare is poised to occur within the next few years as personal genomics finally penetrate the mainstream. Genetic sequencing has made long strides over the last 15 years, when the Human Genome Project produced its first rough draft assembly of the genome itself.
This effort was achieved by researchers sequencing DNA from a wide range of individuals and then combining that information together into a general average that scientists can use to better understand how individual genes affect an organism in its entirety. Every single human being's genome is different; while there may be similarities between individuals, but ultimately every person is unique which means that their health is unique to them as well.
This concept is already being investigated within the current hunt for genetically resilient people living among us. By studying variations in how certain people are able to combat deadly diseases at the genetic level, researchers are hoping to replicate that information into future generations of drug treatments. Individual sequencing is what drives the concept of personal genomics. Instead of taking samples to find a population's genetic average, personal genomics advocates sequencing every single person and presenting that knowledge to them, in order to optimize their health and well-being.
For example, it can let an individual know with certainty whether or not they are susceptible to certain diseases such as cancer. If so, one can then begin planning for treatment with incredible lead time versus suffering a full-blown outbreak and now be forced to combat the disease at its most deadly. Not only is the person at higher risk but their healthcare costs will inevitably sky rocket. What makes this route even more appealing is the knowledge that DNA sequencing and analysis methods are increasing in accuracy while simultaneously dropping in price.
Personal genomics is also poised to affect other areas of daily health such as physical fitness. Companies are now beginning to offer services that, for a set fee and cheek swab, can analyze a person's DNA for specific genetic markers known to govern the body's reaction to exercise. By understanding what specific markers and variants a person possesses, he or she can begin optimizing workouts to take full advantage of what the body is best designed to do.
Imagine what one could do with this information. Instead of taking a bevy of medications to fix physical problems, one could instead design a fitness routine that could avoid many of those said problems, improve their health, and do so while achieving results in less time. Insurance premiums would plummet as quality of life increases. This technological shift still needs to reach critical mass in the public's eye but the benefits are crystal clear, while the technology to make it available only becomes cheaper. The future of healthcare is already here, it is now up to everyone else to finally catch up to it.