A new company called Genos is offering genome sequencing focusing on your exomes for around $500. In the landscape of genetic decoders this is hardly breaking news except this company is looking to innovate the reason for sequencing. The company 23andMe popularized sequencing by offering a low cost to analyze SNPs which could determine disease probability or ethnic distribution. However SNPs are only the single alterations in the genes that may or may not affect how proteins and RNA are made. Exomes are the portion of RNA saved after a process called splicing where a portion of the RNA is discarded. Afterward they will be used as is or be turned into proteins, the primary function of our genes. By looking directly at the differences between our DNA we can gain a stronger picture of how it affects our health. But Genos won’t merely stop at sequencing. They intend to go beyond telling their customers some of the information that is currently known and then saying goodbye.
The features Genos offer are quite unique from what I’ve seen. Once your sequence is available you can then consult with experts who can tell you more about your personal health based on the data. You will also be able to SELL your data to researchers conducting experiments on genetic data. This lands on one of those ethical quandaries that will need to be sorted out so expect another round of discussions on that alone. But what will the data help with? For one thing, based on how your genes vary it could easily affect your chances of developing certain diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. They could also show your susceptibility to certain medications. This secondary possibility is what scientists often visualize for the future. Every hospital will screen your genome, determine benefits and risks and then have these explained to you by trained personnel. While a far off dream it is encouraging to see companies engage in forward thinking like this. I just hope they can avoid anything dishonest as user confidentiality here is the most important concern. Good luck and good screening.