Do you want your genome sequenced?

After reading Mike Snyder’s recent (and very cool) mega-omics-on-self paper, it dawned on me that I am not the only Mike Clark working in genomics. As I’m sure my scientific (but more beardy) doppelganger can no doubt vouch, this happens all the time when you have a common name (there were, I believe, three Mike Clarks at my high school).

The Stanford Mike “Geneticist extraordinaire” Clark also does some science-based blogging and earlier this year outlined why he is going to get his exome sequenced. It’s a persuasive piece which I encourage everyone to read, although for many people the actual outcome to the question “should I have my genome sequenced?” may be more determined by legal and insurance implications, than whether or not they would like to know their genetic code. In my opinion, Standford Mike’s first reason of curiosity (both from a personal and scientific point of view) is reason enough, but I also think the potential medical benefits of knowing your genome are going to become progressively larger. As Standford Mike says:

Moreover, as more and more information regarding the genetic causes of various traits and diseases are discovered, my exome sequence will always be at hand for me to cross-reference. Imagine that tomorrow a study is released identifying a gene that tells you with complete confidence whether or not you’ll get type 2 diabetes. I would check that gene in my own exome for mutations immediately!
That may sound unrealistic, but when it comes to conditions like cancer, these kinds of studies come out all the time. I may identify a random mutation in a gene that pre-disposes people to getting a particular type of cancer in my own genome, and then I will know that I need to have my doctor monitor for that. Having worked closely on brain cancer for a few years, it struck me that the reason it’s the deadliest type of cancer is because by the time we detect it, it’s already at a very advanced stage. But if we have a gene or set of genes that we know predisposes people to get malignant brain tumors, we could look in our own exomes for mutations in those genes and then get ourselves MRIs starting at a particular age to try to detect them earlier and hopefully allow effective, long-term treatment.”

Something quite similar to this came out of the Mike Synder mega-omics-on-self data, where they predicted an increased risk of diabetes based on his genome and then during the course of the study observed the onset of diabetes. Blood glucose tests are cheap and type-2 diabetes is reversible with lifestyle changes (as Mike found) so this was a clear example of the benefit of monitoring yourself for diseases you have a predisposition to.

Myself and some other members of the Mattick Lab caught up with Mike Synder at HGM earlier this year, unsurprisingly the subject of sequencing your own genome/exsome was the main topic of conservation. While chatting about a particular phenotype I have but which is not found elsewhere in my family Mike suggested I should get my genome sequenced, something which is quite tempting. So what does everyone else think, do you want your genome sequenced?


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