We live in exciting times, my friends. A world of personalization is at our fingertips from mixing your signature lipstick color, designing your very own Chucks to creating custom stories on Snapchat. But prepare to have your mind blown with what’s coming in the next few years. As a futurist and trend spotter, I can tell you that products and services will be synched like never before. I’m talking on a cellular level. Forget one size fits all. Soon, everything you buy will reflect what makes you uniquely you. It’s part of what my company calls the “egonomics” trend, which is about how as the pace of life and digitization accelerate, we want more things to embrace and reflect our individuality. To start, let’s give a shout-out to advances in genomics. Over the last decade, creating a complete human genome sequence has gone from costing $20 million or so in 2006 to less than $1,000 in 2016, and it keeps on dropping. With a price point that’s finally becoming accessible to everyone, the market for gene-personalized gear and services is booming.
How did it start?
The most well-known sequencing company today is 23andme. You probably have a relative who’s been gifted a kit at Christmas or a co-worker who keeps jabbering on about how they’re 50% Irish, 14% German, 5% Japanese, etc. Founded in 2006, it’s a company that sequences your DNA through a saliva sample and gives you direct access to your ancestry, health information, and interesting facts like how genetically predisposed you are to consume mass amounts of caffeine and if cilantro tastes delicious or like soap (in my experience, the latter). As of 2017, 23andme has sequenced over 2 million people and paved the way for other companies to cash in on this trend, especially in the realms of fitness, health and beauty. So, let’s take a look at what’s on the horizon:
Everyone will have a personal trainer/dietician in the palm of their hand
“Nutrigenomics,” or the study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, is going to transform your body and your health. In 2014, the European Society of Human Genetics released a study in which a group of dieters whose meals were synched to their DNA info lost 33% more weight and much more quickly than a panel of people who ate standard low-cal fare. Businesses are already capitalizing on this kind of research. For instance, DNAfit offers genome-personalized workout and nutrition advice including diet plans, grocery lists, and a workout app that creates routines based on your genetic muscle type, endurance level, and risk of injury. DNAfit works off a saliva sample too, or it can link with 23andme so you can get your results almost instantly if you’ve already gotten sequenced. I can imagine in the future having an app that tells me just which ingredients to get tossed into my Sweetgreen salad to maximize my particular metabolism and nutrient needs, or which games to play to keep my memory banks in their best possible shape.
Targeted medicine is going to make us almost immortal
Precision medicine — or tailoring treatment to a patient’s genomic makeup – is generating big buzz right now in healthcare. By mining a person’s DNA for insight, researchers and doctors can identify ideal medication dosages, determine which genetic mutations drive certain cancers and sequence our microbiome (all the cellular level critters in our GI tract that impact our health). Some companies, like Toronto-based Deep Genomics, are integrating AI into the process, using machine learning to help doctors diagnose diseases and personalize cures much faster than a human could do it. If this all seems sci-fi, trust me, it’s already happening. And if you want to try to buff up your immune system, there’s Vitagene, a brand of genetically personalized supplements. Imagine knowing today that you’re likely to get osteoporosis decades from now, and being able to prevent it.
With genomics, you’ll never have to wonder “Should I get Botox?” again
If you want to keep your skin looking young for as long as possible, check out these mega-personalized options. GENEU is a skincare company that analyzes your DNA and then factors in other lifestyle info via a questionnaire and ta-da, an anti-aging potion is whipped up just for you. Farther into the future, we’ll be able to create a “second skin” that perfectly matches our own to rejuvenate and repair any areas that need TLC (or to replace that area where you got that tattoo you now regret). Science is going to serve us like never before and allow us to optimize and customize our bodies; light years beyond finding your best shade of rose-gold hair color.