Genomics may seem like a complicated topic, but what many don’t understand, is how common the study is to their day-to-day lives. Since genomic research can tell us a lot about our bodies, we can’t overlook how popular the topic has become.
What is Genomics?
The genetic makeup of your body is extremely important. Since it makes you the person you are, it’s interesting to see how the science behind genomics can shed light on this. Whether it’s a human, animal, plant, or even a virus, genomics speaks to the science of deciphering and understanding the entire genetic information of an organism. Researching and studying this information can aid a variety of industries. Not only can it help those within the health or agrifoods industry (as many can assume), but it can also help those in forestry, aquaculture and mining. By looking at DNA, DNA sequencing methods, as well as bioinformatics, numerous biological questions can be addressed.
How is the Industry Performing?
Previously, the focus of genomics was largely focused on those within the academic sphere. Universities, research institutions, and pharmaceuticals, to be specific. But, as of currently, the genomics industry is now targeting the general public as technology continues to advance. In North America alone, the genomics market is predicted to grow upwards to $13.3 billion by 2025. This prediction will push the industry forward dramatically from its estimated $5.9 billion value in 2017. As genomics appears to be promising in the future, many investment products such as ETFs or mutual funds consist of genomics holdings.
3 Common Uses of Genomics
While there are a number of ways that individuals are using genomics to their day-to-day lives, below are three common applications of the study.
1. Genome Sequencing and Diagnostics
Every individual’s body contains a genome sequence of 3.2 billion letters, therefore, a lot of information may be uncovered. Genome sequencing involves studying the DNA of an individual to better understand the characteristics of their biological make-up. This can include information such as what an individual’s body needs, what food they may want to avoid, or even how their body will respond to specific drugs. In particular, genome sequencing can uncover gene mutations and abnormalities. These studies allow individuals to better understand their own body and what they may need to do to improve their quality of life.
2. Gene Therapy
Another commonly known advantage of genomics is DNA editing or gene therapy. This is when a strain of DNA that has a defective gene is targeted with hopes of changing it. Specifically, by removing the defective piece and replacing it with a healthy strand. The theory behind this procedure allows doctors to treat a disorder once a defective gene is targeted. When gene therapy occurs, it’s expected to stop a patient’s cells from causing problems or even help the body recover.
One form of gene editing technology that is worth highlighting is CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). Previous to 2017, there were a limited number of individuals who understood the concept. However, after a paper was published in the journal of Nature Communications, CRISPR became more widely understood. In particular, the 2017 publishing publicized how CRISPR could interrupt repeating sequences of genetic code. Focusing on portions of the strand that had remnants of invaders or was defective by cutting and replacing the DNA stand itself.
3. Commercialization of Genetic Data
The last common use for genomics is through the trading (buying and selling) of genetic data. At first this may seem foreign, but it’s a common trend. When it comes to the commercialization of genetic data, pharmaceutical companies are sent a DNA sample of a client for the purpose of informing them on what their genes ‘say’ about them. Specifically referring to companies such as Ancestry DNA and 23 and Me who sell at-home DNA testing kits. It is reported by 2017, there were over 3 million people who were tested and had their DNA-data stored by one of these DNA testing companies. This information includes but is not limited to their ancestry or what health complications they could be at risk for. While there are conflicting opinions, many see it to be beneficial as the results could encourage lifestyle changes, choices or even seek preventative medicine.
Investing in Genomics
As technology and innovations continue, many predict genomic offerings to expand further. While some current advancements may only be able to tell you general information about yourself, there’s no telling how it could change. However, there is one thing that is for certain. With its increasing application in numerous fields, many are expecting the genomics industry to continue to grow. And for individuals with an investment portfolio, this could be beneficial.
The Evolve Innovation Index Fund (TSX: EDGE) is a disruptive product that focuses on innovative companies that are fundamentally transforming our world across various industries such as cyber security, robotics, and genomic companies. For more information about this fund, click here.