Is Gene Sequencing the New Oil?

The race to compile genetic data is on. Gene sequencing is an important part of the science that is going to revolutionize the medical industry. It will greatly effect everything we know about diseases as well as medicine. This new research combines the worlds of life and data science. Genetic science and genetic medicine are the areas that have the most to gain from all of this new information. One city is at the heart of this modern day oil rush, is Toronto.

Toronto offers one of the world’s most diverse populations, making it a great hub for gene sequencing. Advancements in computer technology and testing have made the process of gene sequencing more affordable. A process that was once outsourced overseas is now done in labs in Toronto. This will lead to an influx of information for local scientists.

How Is Genetic Research Like Oil?

According to one scientist, Professor Stephen Scherer, director of University of Toronto’s Mclaughlin Centre says “Genetic information is the new oil. It’s the resource that’s going to drive technology in the new era.”

“With sequencing now married to large-scale computation, I believe we in Toronto can help lead the way for precision medicine. Genomic information is the new oil. It’s the resource that’s going to drive technology in the new era. We’re generating the oil that researchers will use to enable discoveries and to create new products in software, biotechnology and information management that will realize precision medicine.”

The genetic research being done at U of T will fuel the technological revolution like oil fueled the boom in new mechanical technologies.

How Will Gene Sequencing Benefit Society

Gene sequencing will add the already underway data revolution, and create a new generation of precision therapies. This will especially be true in the case of complex diseases. Understanding the genes that cause certain complex diseases such as Autism can allow scientists in genetic medicine to find new treatments. There is also the possibility of finding a cure. Stephen Scherer said:

“The groundbreaking work that U of T  and SickKids have done for the MSSNG Autism Genome Sequencing Project and the Canadian Personal Genome Project has set the stage for the creation of a large pediatric reference genome that will have far reaching utility in complex disease,”

The new information obtained by these researchers and the advancement in computational power is transforming medical research. Whole-genome sequencing allows us to understand life at its most fundamental level and also allows us to find genetic defects that lead to specific diseases. Armed with this information, genetic research allows for new diagnostic designs and precision treatments.

What Started The Gene Sequencing Boom

The biggest asset to genetic science is the advancement in computational power.  A whole-genome is filled with a large amount of complex information. To process this, you have to have powerful computers and specific software designed to handle the enormous amount of information. The University of Toronto was able to acquire funding to purchase the Illumina HiSeq X Ten sequencing system along with powerful computers. This combination of technology is capable of mapping 10,000 genomes a year.

With further advancements in technology and science, it is a fantastic time for the genetic research industry.