Genomics is exciting right now. The sci-fi movies I watched growing up have somehow become not just feasible, but reality. We’ve successfully determined most of the 6 billion bases that makes a human. Our brilliant scientists and researchers are starting to piece together the massive amounts of data that might describe how our genes interact. Genetics is digital.
Ion Torrent, a product of Life Technologies, is a new, disruptive DNA sequencing platform that determines DNA reads using a completely novel, electrical signal-based detection method. Unlike the classical Sanger methods which rely on fluorescence and light, Ion Torrent can sequence in the dark.
Genomic sequence variants, including single nucleotide polymorphisms, insertions, deletions, and even deleterious substitutions, are often listed with a deprecated nomenclature and incorrect nucleic acid or amino acid names. A static reference genome assembly (for instance, the Locus Reference Genomic sequence) is greatly needed.
Genetic testing for predisposition to complex genetic traits and late-onset diseases may one day be used in the determination of life insurance premiums. This brings up new questions about the protection of privacy, moral hazards, and the role the free market plays in the life insurance industry.
DNA sequencing, cellular reprogramming, developmental biology and stem cells will one day allow for genetic identity theft to be an actionable offense. This form of identity theft, with the potential to produce some twisted results, may not even be preventable.