What If Your Genetics Defined Your Community?

Imagine a world where people band together in activism around their genetic makeup. They wear real-time sensors, share their biomarker data with each other, influence government, and get group discounts on custom medications.

This is the vision embodied in the “artifact from the future” above. It’s called Networked Health, and it was released as part of IFTF’s HealthCare 2020 map.

We see signs of this already. The Parkinson’s research community at 23andMe is one example of people with a specific, genetically defined disease coming together to learn from each other and contribute their data to finding a treatment.

Even more specific are the genetic communities forming at DIY Genomics, where Melanie Swan and Raymond McCauley are helping to define and organize citizen science studies around different genetic mutations. Their first study is looking at the MTHFR mutation that may be correlated with Vitamin B deficiency. Anyone can participate by uploading their 23andMe or other genetic data and getting a simple Vitamin B-12 blood test done. Eventually, participants will track their vitamin supplementation regimens and monitor their progress.

The implication of this is having custom vitamin or treatment cocktails recommended on the basis of your genetic makeup, and having the community-generated data to back it up. Scientific discoveries will increasingly come from non-traditional sources – everyday, educated people taking research into their own hands.

Full disclosure: I probably have a bias in this area. My own community research site, CureTogether, has released a series of infographics on treatments that patients have found to work best for seven chronic diseases.

If you know of another citizen science project around health, or are starting a new one of your own, I’d love to blog about it and help all the Networked Health people connect. Tweet me @accarmichael to introduce yourself or comment.

Original article at http://iftf.org/node/3538