Genes are the blueprint for our bodies. Each of us has a unique set, and outside of identical twins, there are no exact duplicates. Genomics is the study of those genes, of how they express themselves, and how they get passed from one generation to the next. Humans have about 23,000 genes. Identifying the exact order of these genes, and how they fit together, is called sequencing. The first genome fully sequenced, the E. coli bacteria, was completed in 1977. Since then, the technology has been rapidly advancing, leading up to the sequencing of the first human genome just over a decade ago. As the technology progresses, we’re able to analyze our genes more accurately, faster, and at a much lower cost. There is no doubt that society is on the verge of having easy access to the breadth of genomic data, and with the technology we’ve developed here at N.A.G., we’re set to ensure that we use that information wisely.
Since the complete human genome was sequenced in 2003, the world has been waiting to see what kind of impact genetic information will have on society. As technology has advanced, our questions have only multiplied: What exactly is genomics? How does it affect my health? My children’s health? My grandparents? Are there laws protecting my genomic data? Can my insurance company reduce my benefits because of a genetic screening? New Amsterdam Genomics is interested in those questions, the ethics and philosophy behind them, and the implications they have for our society.
Genomic information is staggering in scope. Over the past ten years, research has identified thousands of genes correlated with the occurrence of a diverse set of diseases. A genetic risk has been identified for heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, and many others. How a patient’s body reacts to a specific medication can be traced down to a genetic level. Even the genome of an unborn child can be analyzed, allowing risk factors to be identified, and preventive interventions planned far in advance. Genomic information stays with a patient for their entire lives. We believe at New Amsterdam Genomics that access to this information will revolutionize healthcare. Certainly, there are unforeseen ramifications, even beyond the sphere of public health. The question remains: how will access to genomic information impact a routine trip to the doctor, the language of health, or even the concept of our own humanity?
That’s where you come in. New Amsterdam Genomics is on the forefront of developing sequencing and analysis technology, and while we are confident we can guide this technology to benefit society, it would be silly and dangerous if we thought we could do it without input from everyone. We’re already in talks with sequencing experts, doctors and healthcare institutions, but we know we need to go beyond the healthcare and scientific industries. People like you will determine the impact and future of this technology. People like you will ultimately decide how this information is used. We started this blog to spark a conversation about that impact, and how it affects not only you, but your neighbors, your family, and the world around you. We look forward to what you have to say.
-The New Amsterdam Genomics Team