November 17, 2019
Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, made the prescient observation that the cost of computing would halve every two years. This, over the past few decades, has indeed proven to be approximately correct. Consequentially, it unleashed an IT revolution that spawned PC’s the internet, and even smartphones with computing power multiples higher than those that were used to take man to the moon. With that in mind, the only words that occurred to me when I saw the graph below was “Wow!”. In the 14 years from 2001 to 2015, the cost of sequencing a single Human Genome has gone from $100,000,000 to just $1,000.
The implications of this big shift are wide and far ranging. It is reasonable to expect that anyone living in the developed world will have their DNA sequenced during their lifetime if they so choose. The amount of business and investment opportunities this will unleash is hard to predict. That said, a few cases have already been put forward (sticking with the less dystopian ones):
- Personalized medicine and drugs
- Prediction of the onset of a disease
- Development of cure for genetic diseases
- Unique personal identification – which has already been used to absolve people wrongly convicted of crimes
- Protection and security of personal genetic information
- Tracing of personal ancestry tree
My family has a lot of fun comparing notes and propensities with the genetic analysis already being sold to consumers today. That said, as an investor I’m conscious that the investment opportunities here, while large are not as easy to capture as the ones dealing with bits and the IT revolution. That is because dealing with atoms and real people, makes them harder to scale, sell globally. In addition, they also raise profound regulatory and ethical questions that slow down adoption or can even deem illegal a particular product or service. There is no question that many billionaires will be borne of this coming age of Gene Tech. But I doubt most of them will start with just a couple of kids in a dorm or in a garage.