Archive for September, 2012

The Union of the GI’s

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

A couple of friends asked me about my comments on BGI’s move to acquire CGI. After a long brunch with a BGI executive and a phone conversation with Steve Dickman, the CEO of CBT Advisors and an Xconomist, I figured Steve’s new blog would be a much more thorough analysis than the one I was going to write. Since it’s now published, hot off the press, I highly recommend that you read about it here:

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When will consumer genomics become mainstream?

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

The way I see it, whenever whole genome sequencing cost drops to more affordable level with decent accuracy and robustness, there will be a blast of new business popping up to target the utilization of consumer genomics. This may very well happen in the next year or two, and in fact we’re already seeing the pre-game shows. When people can afford to pay out of pocket, the regulatory enforcement becomes weaker since there’s no longer a key reliance on the current healthcare system including insurance coding. The regulatory pressure to companies like 23andMe is, in my opinion, problematic in some ways: consumer genomics will likely only provide information to people, and efforts to regulate such areas with considerations of people’s reaction to it, be it good or bad, is a very intangible and vague goal. Trying to heavily regulate such information release is to some extent like depriving people’s right to know that smoking is harmful. If everybody has the right to know that smoking leads to lung cancer, everybody should have equal rights to know that he/she has a BRCA1 mutation. Some might argue that the sequencing detection of mutation may only be, let’s say, 99% accurate, and what about the 1%? Well, what’s the percentage of smokers who develop lung cancer before they die, is it 100%? A very critical point is, if there’s a biomedical technology advancement that will benefit 99% of the people (I would even argue 95% or 90%, depending on the target indication), there should be a way to put it to good use. Looking at the big picture, where healthcare cost saving and society burden relief from the majority of the cases clearly outweigh the negative consequences, the focus should definitely be not only on how to address the minority, but also on how to put the technology to good use.

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