Friday, January 29, 2016

Time To Get Your Genes Sequenced

An article in The Wall Street Journal called "More Medical Researchers Engage in Self-Experimentation" explores the value of self-experimentation for researchers, particularly regarding personal genome sequencing. 

There are soon going to be new apps for exome and genome sequencing, where you can download the results onto apps on the cellphone, just as you can now on your iPad and desk computer. This development will aid patients in doctors offices without strong internet access or wifi, and then allow patients to show their genetic test results to doctors. Doctors will therefore make more accurate diagnoses, have better results with patients who will work harder if they know they have certain predispositions, and better personalize healthcare with genetic results. Incidentally, patients who have been through this process have much more respect for doctors who have done this simple and easy homework, as the comments at the 23andMe website can attest. Doctors will give better service to patients if they've had their own genetic tests done, while patients who have had genetic tests might get better care than those who don't have them.

Sharing the results helps us understand ourselves and our families in more detail. The results have always been our own, from the inception of genetic research with the Personal Genome Project. More programs like Arivale and the Understand Your Genome project highlighted here at CNBC, some being offered through employement, should also give the genomic results to patients, following the principle that cells and genes are our own. Gene sequencing helps fundamental medical and biological research because the more people who participate numerically and share results, the better the research that can be done to find, for example, the correlations between non-invasive genetic results and invasive medical procedures and operations, for cancers, childbirth, heart disease, and immune system diseases. 

Cooperation in the medical field in the United States isn't what it could and should be, and all medical doctors who meet the general public should have their genomes tested. No one's genome is perfect, and we are all more alike than we are different. The perfect time to sequence your genome is now because a lot is already going on and there is so much to learn. Waiting for the perfect car, computer, or cellphone wouldn't make sense, and neither does waiting for perfect genetic results. Biologists who work in the field can help further research if they have a broader picture of their own health through genetic sequencing, and understand the consequences of their research.

I've had my genes sequenced at 23andMe, third-party programs, such as Promethease, Genetic Genie, Livewello, and Nutrahacker, and most recently have joined a program in Seattle called Arivale for further testing. Nearly everyone can and should get their genomes sequenced, particularly those in the fields of biology and medicine. There's not a valid excuse not to do so, except for the costs, which are falling rapidly for the average consumer (and the five dollars that Promethease charges won't hurt anyone's budget). It's an investment in your health and future. 

I did this as an activity, like flying somewhere (not an accomplishment), and enjoyed it very much not because I'm unwell, but because I'm interested in wellness and how to live a long, healthy life. Doing it became life-changing over a period of years, almost an obsession, and reinforced in me the importance of lessons gained from medical literature that medical doctors have long coached in patients, such as the importance of exercise, a healthy diet and weight (which can sometimes be related), and sufficient sleep, among other biggies. Incidentally, I get along better with my daughter who's had it done because when she acts a way I don't understand, but is like her father, I know she really can't help it; her genes are different in that way than mine and I can relax and accept these differences, not find fault or worse, correct her. Think of your genome as a future resource for your children. Get your genome sequenced for them.

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