Whole Genome Sequencing: The Future of Personalized Health

What have been some of the most transformative advancements in genetic research and personalized medicine since the completion of the Human Genome Project? How can health coaches use this information in their practices?

In his podcast, The DNA of Things, host Dr. Jeremy Koenig interviewed Dr. Brandon Colby and discussed how whole genome sequencing is disrupting traditional medical testing and paving the way for a new era of personalized, preventive healthcare. 

For health coaches and personal trainers, understanding this emerging technology can help you guide clients toward optimizing their health based on their unique genetic makeup. The following is an edited excerpt from the podcast.

DNA Empowerment

Early adopters of whole genome sequencing tend to fall into three main groups:

  1. Quantified self enthusiasts and “biohackers” seeking to optimize every aspect of their health and performance
  2. Those with undiagnosed chronic illnesses who have exhausted traditional medical options without answers
  3. New parents who want a complete profile of their baby’s health to guide proactive care from day one 

However, the applications extend to anyone invested in preventing disease and living well. Knowing your genetic predispositions empowers you to make targeted diet, lifestyle and medical choices in collaboration with healthcare providers.

For example, if someone has a higher genetic risk for age-related macular degeneration, they can implement strategies like managing screen time, wearing protective eyewear and consuming key nutrients to lower their chances of vision loss. The point is to “use your nature to nurture” your health.

“It’s interesting because, really, it’s this notion of sequence once and query often,” says Colby.

“So you have all the data. The interesting thing, too, is that all the research hasn’t been done yet. And that’s what we talked about in the beginning where this genome was sequenced in 2001. Now we’ve got this intervention or software solution to shape the data into something that is digestible and actionable, but also addresses the dynamic, ever-flowing and changing behavior of just the scientific endeavor in general.”

A New Era

While single gene testing has been the norm, it is limited and expensive, often costing thousands of dollars to test just one or two genes out of the 30,000+ in the human genome. In contrast, whole genome sequencing provides the complete genetic blueprint for under $400, making it increasingly accessible and affordable for the everyday person. As Dr. Colby explains:

“Full genome sequencing will obtain the full sequence of all 30,000 [genes] for less than it costs for traditional labs to sequence one or two. And a lot of that is just built around the labs being very traditional, having this business model in place that they were able to make a lot of money on for a very long period of time and not really wanting to invest in the latest technology.”

Sequencing.com provides low-cost whole genome sequencing, but also develops user-friendly software to translate the complex raw data into actionable insights. Their suite of tools allows different users to engage with their genetic information in the most relevant ways:

  • Genome Explorer is for those who want to dig deep and search for specific variants, much like “Google for your genes.”
  • Next Gen Disease Screen provides a comprehensive risk assessment for over 10,000 diseases, conditions, traits and medication reactions in a single report. Rather than a narrow analysis, it lets the genome itself highlight the most critical items.
  • Health Scan offers ongoing monitoring and alerts based on new research, ensuring genetic insights are always up-to-date even as science rapidly evolves. With hundreds of new gene-disease associations discovered monthly, this is critical for staying informed about personal health implications over a lifetime.

“Genomics is moving forward so fast,” notes Dr. Colby. “Health Scan is now the answer for [staying up to date]. So, Genome Explorer is really for digging into the data.”

“Next Gen Disease Screen is a single analysis for diseases, almost every known disease that has a genetic component, one analysis for that, and then there’s Health Scan that provides any changes, any new information based on the latest research on an ongoing basis and you get alerts going forward for the rest of your life.”

Personalized Wellness Programs

As a health coach or personal trainer, imagine being able to design hyper-personalized plans for each client based on their DNA. By partnering with their primary care providers, you can help translate genetic insights into daily habits that can prevent or mitigate chronic diseases.

Whole genome sequencing is a powerful tool that will only become more widely utilized in the years ahead. For professionals dedicated to helping people live their healthiest lives, embracing this innovation positions you on the leading edge of truly personalized wellness. An investment in understanding your clients’ genes is an investment in their lifelong vitality.

 Key Takeaways:
  •  Whole genome sequencing provides a complete genetic blueprint for under $400, far cheaper than single gene tests that only look at 1-2 of the 30,000+ genes.
  • It is now possible to get user-friendly tools to translate raw genetic data into actionable insights for different goals – deep dives, comprehensive health reports, and ongoing alerts as new discoveries are made. 
  • Early adopters include quantified self enthusiasts, those with undiagnosed illnesses, and parents seeking proactive health information for their children from birth. But the applications are relevant for anyone wanting to optimize their wellness.
  • Health coaches and personal trainers can use clients’ genetic profiles to design hyper-personalized plans in collaboration with medical providers, helping translate DNA insights into preventive lifestyle habits.
  •  Staying on top of whole genome sequencing positions wellness professionals on the cutting edge of truly individualized healthcare.

What questions do you have about whole genome sequencing? We want to hear from you!

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