PLOS: What will genomics look like in a decade?

A new PLOS paper examines where genomics will be in a decade. A number of genomics leaders make projections in the paper of how big data, genomics and healthcare will intertwine by 2025.

There’s been a ton of prognosticating on what may be cooking in the next decade for genomics and genetics.

A new PLOS paper provides some conjecture,  – and it’s all about massive, diversified data as it applies to the personalization of medicine. It breaks down the diverse applications of genomics, the delving deeper into nature’s coding, and applications of in silico biology, to name a few. Dystopian uses of genetic data or antigenetics movements aren’t really on the radar.

Scientists will sequence at least one member of each identified species on the planet, building out a “digitalized tree of life.” Open-sourcing this information, along with integrated omics knowledge will also “lay the foundation of medicine and health care for the rest of the century,” writes Huanming Yang, director of the Beijing Genomics Institute.

Next-gen sequencing platforms are churning out new forms of high-res data that expose the “dark matter” of the genome, writes Princeton University evolutionary biology professor Laura F. Landweber. This allows us a much deeper understanding of complexities of some of our simples organisms – protists. Understanding the way unicellular organisms process DNA and RNA could lead to new ways to edit or rewrite genomic information.

An in silico approach to genomics will help us explore and understand large-scale sequencing. “This might be at the level of databases and sophisticated visual interfaces that allow smooth data exploration across the levels of resolution from a single cell through to the whole organism, with access to perturbed data from gene knockouts or disease, or it might be more complex modeling of the molecular relationships from the data, enabling predictions of effects of change through causal reasoning,” writes genomics pioneer Ian Dunham.

Some of the forthcoming issues in bioethics include moving beyond the individual – so we can build out sustainable universal health care systems, according to genetics ethicist Bartha Knoppers. Creating biobanks and finding new ways to stratify individuals outside of age, gender and disease could help destigmatize disease – and possibly democratize health care.