Sunday, November 25, 2018
Getting Your Genome Sequenced for Free
Have you ever wanted your genome sequenced, but was afraid that the price may be too costly? Fortunately, a recent genomics startup company, Nebula Genomics, have offered consumers the option of having their genes sequenced for free. With the prices of sequencing one's entire genome costing an arm and a leg, this may be an enticing offer. However, there is a catch which Nebula clearly wants their customers to know. The company will sequence your genome entirely for free as long as you are willing to provide your data to research purposes in genetics. Although this may seem to be a breach in privacy, the company states that they will be using a data storage method called block chaining. where such information is scattered and distributed throughout the network compared to it being centralized. In addition to a cut down in cost, the company entices consumers by stating that their sequencing will provide, "2,000 times more data than existing services" (i.e. Ancestry and 23andme).
With such an opportunity presented, the company does acknowledge some drawbacks. Initial sequencing tests will not be superbly accurate, therefore, the data cannot be used to make medical judgments. To add, it will take some time for the database to sufficiently grow in order for it to provide researchers useful information. On top of the company's stated drawbacks, certain people view the service still lacking in privacy protection of consumer's personal information. Sequencing one's genome should only be done if the participant is fully willing. Still, Nebula promises to be entirely transparent with their customers in all matters.
As a member of the scientific community, I would wholeheartedly give this a shot. I am not only benefiting myself in satisfying my curiosity of how my genome looks like, but I am also benefiting the research community who may find my data useful. I have no qualms about sharing such personal information, I believe sharing of information is one of the key pillars in scientific progress. As long as the company shows integrity to their word, I support Nebula's efforts.
In a side note, Nebula is offering the service to customers who don't want their data to be used in research, however, they will have to pay $99 dollars to do so which is standard for most other popular services.