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The DNA Sharing Future

People have been talking about the Internet of Things, but MIT's Technology Review says that the Internet of DNA is only a handful of years away.

Tech Review includes 'Internet of DNA' alongside Apple Pay, Google's Loon project, and more on its list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies that it says "will be worth following in the coming years."

Being able to trade genome sequences, particularly those belonging to people with by rare, enigmatic genetic disorders, through the Internet may help doctors and their patients find other patients with the disorder and could suggest treatment approaches.

As Tech Review's Antonio Regalado writes, efforts like those by the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health are underway to help ease the sharing of genetic data. But many of the hang-ups, he notes, are social rather than technical issues as people are wary of sharing genomic information due to security and privacy concerns.

Still, some approaches like peer-to-peer sharing — when Regalado visited David Altshuler's Broad office, 'Napster' was written across the white board there — may get around some of those issues. That way, David Haussler at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says, the data doesn't move and access can be controlled.

"You can't get your result with just 10,000 patients — you are going to need more. Scientists will share now because they have to," the University of Southern California's Arthur Toga tells Regalado.