A few weeks ago, Technology Review's David Ewing Duncan received his raw genome data by e-mail. In his inbox were "endless lines of nucleotides," which may hold clues as to his risk for everything from heart disease and Alzheimer's to depression, he says at the Experimental Man blog. These data may inform which drugs he can take as well as which he should avoid, and one day, Duncan says, these data could be used in tandem with individualized stem cells to personalize any treatment created for any condition he might develop. At his blog, Duncan contemplates what he learned by viewing his complete genome that he didn't already know. "Two important challenges arise as I begin to analyze my data: One is that tools for interpreting whole genomes remain nascent as companies and labs that have been hell bent on building better and cheaper methods for sequencing begin to turn to the much more Herculean task of understanding what all of this code means," Duncan says. "The other is that much of the genetic markers remain preliminary, based on statistical analyses that compare people, say, with heart disease to those who don't have heart disease." In the end, he adds, the real question is whether these data will ever really change anything in his life.
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Sep 05, 2011