The Genomics Revolution: Building An App Store For Genomes

New company Helix wants to make an 'app store' for your DNA Credit: DNA Art Online

Your DNA contains a huge amount of information, and it's getting cheaper and easier to sequence it every day. The problem now is not the sequencing, but what you can actually learn from the information - if you can at all. We're pretty good at reading off the code nowadays, but the vast majority of it is still a mystery. While there are many companies that will sequence your DNA for a relatively cheap fee, there's no unified platform directing you to companies who can actually make sense of the code for you; after all there's not much use having information if you have no idea what it means. Starting with a $100 million investment and partners including Illumina (a world leader in sequencing), new company Helix aims to change this by building a sort of genome 'App store' - putting you in touch with your DNA.

Helix wants to act like a hub, connecting you with the right companies and enabling you to find out information you want on your very own genome. As sequencing expands, buoyed by the precision medicine drive, we're learning more and more about our DNA. This platform hopes to bring all these developments together so that discoveries can trickle through to individuals at home trying to decipher their own genomes. 

"Genomics is reaching an inflection point in cost, volumes, and knowledge, creating a significant opportunity to unlock information that is currently not widely accessible to individuals"

Once you've had your genome sequenced, you might have specific interests in mind like ancestry or disease vulnerability. This platform would act like an app store, storing your information and directing you to a source offering you the service you want - which then gains access to your data and can analyse it accordingly. To many people their genome may seem like an intangible code they neither see nor understand, but if this type of interface becomes commonplace it could totally change how we interact with our genomes, bringing DNA into the everyday. We could personalise our lives based on new information; tailoring diets, exercises or medications.

While medical information might require FDA approval and there are potential dangers along the way, the platform could be a first step at introducing new levels of connectivity to the world of genomics. 

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