One researcher provides a futuristic glimpse of what this analysis might look like if extended beyond genomic sequencing to other "omes" like the proteome (the proteins produced by the human body) and metabolome (chemicals). Michael Snyder, director of the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, had his genome sequenced and underwent frequent blood draws to measure thousands of molecules in his blood. His genome predicted an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, which didn't really worry him because he was at a healthy weight and didn't have other risk factors. But his glucose levels soon spiked, and he was diagnosed with the disease.
"I changed my eating habits a lot" and exercised more, says Snyder. Six months later, his glucose levels had returned to normal.
Snyder foresees a time in preventive medicine when gene sequencing is routine and regular blood tests can capture many more pieces of information than the number of white or red blood cells or your blood glucose level. To be sure, his is a research project with a single subject – himself – so a lot more work needs to be done. Snyder is also now tracking his microbiome (the microbes that live on and in the body) and epigenome (chemical changes to the DNA that can be triggered by the environment). Whether this kind of personalized information, collected and used on a larger scale, could improve care or lower costs is still a question for the future.
Meanwhile, for Betty Lane, Nic Santiago Volker, Lucas Wartman and Caitlin O'Hara, the era of personalized medicine is now. And the concept has already proved its worth.