Thanks to the Human Genome Project, scientists today know more about the human genome than ever before. This gives us access to many medical and entrepreneurial opportunities. From medicine to agriculture, genes are what makes the world go around. Young investors need to consider the opportunities in biological sciences and what this could mean for the future of the human race.
Going into genomics requires the basic understanding of two concepts:
DNA, abbreviation of deoxyribonucleic acid, is an organic chemical of complex molecular structure that is found in all prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and in many viruses. DNA codes genetic information for the transmission of inherited traits.
These two definitions form the ultimate difference between genetics and genomics. Genetics is the study of genes and their role in inheritance – what parents pass down to their children such as hair colour, eye colour, height, etc. Genomics is a broader term that takes into account all the DNA in an organism’s genome – it includes genetics and other studies. Genomics is how we read and interpret the DNA that stores genetic information in ALL living cells. From plants to animals, genomics allows for us to understand them and also manipulate them
Going into detail into this field is incredibly difficult for an uneducated author – thus I will give only a brief overview and link to several more articles and websites that go into further detail.
Thanks to the results of the Human Genome Project, scientists now understand all of the genes that make up homo sapiens – or a complete understanding of our genome. With this understanding comes many controversial powers, such as:
- Helping scientists understand human genomic variation – what makes us different and what makes us the same;
- Cancer is caused by changes in your genome, therefore increased understanding of the genome has revolutionised diagnoses as well as treatment;
- Illuminate the origins of individual people and families;
- Using genomics to improve plant and animal breeding practices by seeing which have more productive genes;
- Can discover the causes of rare disorders and diseases;
- Can choose the right medication at the right dosage for each patient since the genome determines how the body responds to certain medications;
- Can test unborn babies for genomic variants without invasive procedures for pregnant mothers;
- The possibility to edit the human genome and cure genetic diseases.
The DNA sequencing market worldwide is predicted to grow tremendously by the middle of the upcoming decade likely due to its ever decreasing cost. According to the Financial Times, in 2016 already the cost of accurately sequencing all 3 billion “letters” of a single person’s DNA fell below the $1,000 mark. In 2020, the MIT Technology Review wrote about China’s “gene giant” group BGI who claimed it could break the $100 barrier. People can now get reports on their DNA and what this means for their health and general living.
This technology is still new, thus it might not be the right time to invest just yet but that doesn’t mean we cannot keep an eye out for the future.