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Ever a Maverick

Certain precincts of Twitter blew up recently when Dallas Mavericks owner and television personality Mark Cuban sent out a tweet suggesting that those who could afford it should have their blood tested on a quarterly basis in order to have a baseline of their own personal health.

As this Vox article from Julia Belluz recounts, medical Twitter came down hard on Cuban's suggestion, with some like ProPublica's Charles Ornstein telling people to ignore Cuban's advice.

Interesting for those following the MDx scene, though, is that while most commentators were openly dismissive of Cuban, his recommendation has basis in, if not the current state of the art, at least where many MDx researchers hope to take the field in the future.

A number of scientists, and some commercial firms, are at work on technologies that could be used for regular testing of healthy patients, the rationale being — as Cuban more or less pointed out — that natural biological variation across populations makes population-based testing baselines difficult to arrive at, and so having good data on individual baseline levels of target analytes would allow for more accurate testing.

Perhaps most famously, Stanford University researcher Michael Snyder recently demonstrated the potential of such an approach when he tracked his own genomic and proteomic data over a course of months, detecting in himself during this time the first signs of diabetes.

Beyond Snyder, researchers including clinical proteomics pioneer Leigh Anderson and diagnostics start-up HealthTell are working on technologies that could be used for longitudinal monitoring of patients both healthy and sick.

Granted, the technology to support such approaches remains a ways off, as do clinically validated tests. But the idea is certainly one taken seriously by many in the field.

In this context, Cuban seems less crazy than perhaps just a bit ahead of his time.