Personal genomics company 23andMe recently entered a four-year $500M collaborative agreement with major pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. The deal gives GSK access to the genetic data of 23andMe’s 5 million customers, which GSK will use to identify new drug targets and develop more effective treatments. However, as genetic testing becomes more readily available to consumers, ethical concerns are being raised with regards to the privacy and ownership of genetic data. As patients begin to understand the value of their genomic and healthcare data, disruptive innovators have launched blockchain solutions that seek to democratise genomic data and alleviate privacy concerns.
There is a growing consumer appetite for personal genetic testing, in part due to its lowering cost. The Human Genome Project first sequenced the human genome in 2003 at a cost of around $2.7 billion, but advances in technology mean that the cost of consumer testing has now dropped well below $1000 and is forecast to drop below $100 within the next few years. It is estimated that over 12 million people have now had their genetic makeup tested, with more consumers tested in 2017 than all other years combined.