Personal genomics offers the promise of raising quality of life to unexpected levels. Understanding one’s genome and its effects become paramount for achieving this promise. Recreational Genomics has arisen as a field of commercial activity allowing mass scale genome screening. For several hundred dollars it is possible to have one’s genome analyzed and results easily downloaded as a flat text file. In the case of 23andMe, this analysis consists of personal variants (genotype) for more than 0.5M SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). This personal “genome” is interesting in its own right and it would be even more interesting provided that this information is compared and analyzed in the context of other people’s genomes and their phenotypes.
A resource available for social networking to allow mass comparison of people sharing traits and genomic variants, I believe could have revolutionary effects. Such a network could allow one start making sense of specific personal traits, susceptibility to illnesses and determination of potential treatments proven successful by genetically similar people. Exchange of genetic information made easy should be a reality soon.
The time is ripe for social genome networks. Indeed there are lots of potential ethical and legal challenges ahead. How long are laws and social prejudices going to stop the inevitable?