Licensing Your DNA

I've written about the advancements of Health Tech over and over. Combine this with disruptive pressures on insurance and pharma, we are looking at a complete flip in perspective on matters of data, privacy and 'who pays'. The trend is so compelling, that I predict that it will be common practice for individuals to 'license' their DNA to those that gain for the scale of human biological data. Might seem far fetched, but with the existing ventures in genome sequencing, ancestral discovery, and a broken medical industry, these are the key components that will make way for such a slip.

Within five years, it will be common practice for us to license our DNA

Many of us have heard of 23 and Me, Illumina, Google Genome, etc. These large ventures are pushing the advancement of DNA technologies to be far more insightful, re-usable and accessible. There is no doubt that the scientific breakthroughs, coupled with the multitude of applications of technology, when combined can be useful to improve the length and quality of life.

The desire to live longer, and have fuller lives is a trait many share. It's the reason one might quit smoking, join a gym or change their diet. And very soon, with more accessible and affordable DNA technologies, many of us will store our DNA sequence as a means to boost the effectiveness of our interventions in the pursuit of a healthier life.


However,if you speak to any of the companies already working with DNA, they'll tell you the horror story they have on storing raw form sequence data - data that is not yet fully understood, but will be in the coming years. I heard recently that a single DNA sequence could be as large as 150 gigabytes in its raw form. Even if only a small percentage of the population opts to have their DNA sequenced, that is one of the largest data projects, ever. We need a better way to commercially sustain it.

Enter the big boys, Insurance and Pharma.

Pharma alone spends billions of dollars annually on human trails to bring new products to market. Imagine if they could find the collective data on raw DNA to test the impact of a new cancer vaccine on a population. In theory, by using the DNA of the population, instead of the population itself, a pharma could accelerate the trials process and have tested a far broader sample. Of course to do this, they'd need your permission to use your DNA for the period of the trial.

Enter Blockchain. At its core, Blockchain can manage purpose and time-based relationships on data. So in theory, you could give GSK access to blood work, and specific parts of your DNA sequence for them to test that new product. Boom! You're now licensing your DNA for the purpose of accelerating the advancement of medical technology and pharma. This will help you by both improving quality of life, and giving you a bargaining chip to either earn or barter on the value of your DNA. And most importantly, it's now commercially viable to sequence the entire population of a country, continent or the world.

When Google built Google Wallet, the value they get from the pre and post transactions data is far more valuable than the inter-change fee the banks earn today. As the data brings insight, I'm seeing the exact same trend in the advancement of DNA technologies.

In my upcoming book, Innovation Wars, I dig deeper into the disruptive threats that industries like Heath Care, Pharma, and Insurance face over the coming decade. The key is which companies will develop the innovative insights and have the ability to execute to survive these potentially disruptive tidal waves.