Taking Control of Our Genetic Information: Could it Go Too Far?

Up until recently, those in the technology industry and those conducting genomic research would have been considered strange bedfellows. But big data — more specifically, big genomic data — is bringing the two groups together.

Last month, Apple revealed its plans to collaborate with genetic researchers to design an app that would allow consumers to take a DNA test and submit their DNA information for genetic studies.

Apple is not the first technology company to want a piece of your DNA (literally). Last year, Google approached hospitals and universities offering to store their genetic information in Google Genomics, a cloud computing service that would enable researchers to store and share such data.

In addition to Apple and Google, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft are getting in on the genetic data market.

Not to be outdone, the U.S. government is collecting a trove of genetic information in order to spur precision medicine, with the goal of improving patient-specific treatments for cancer, diabetes, and other ailments.

Collecting, connecting and comparing the genetic information of thousands and millions of people is going to be the future of medical discoveries in this big data world. One centralized database where researchers and physicians can query millions of genomes at once could be instrumental for personalized medicine, medical models that customize diagnosis and treatment for individual patients based on their unique genetic makeup.

One of the biggest advantages of this sort of data sharing would be the potential for rare genetic disorders, which are as yet hard to identify. To be able to sift through millions of genomes and identify such mutations could do wonders for disease diagnosis.

With the new smartphone-aided apps for genetic information sharing, patients can —> Read More