The Myth of Whole Genome Sequencing

Next Generation Sequencing

We talk with many pharmaceutical and healthcare providers who want to understand the world of “pharmacogenomics”. Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to prescribed drugs. Today, we effectively create drugs for the masses with the idea that a “one size fits all” approach will work. This is unfortunately not the case given that our genes can vary slightly, rendering certain drugs less powerful or useless with certain patient genetic makeups.

In order to combat this, the field of Pharmacogenomics has catapulted into popularity with the promise of tailoring prescription drugs to certain genetic makeup. Like any new emerging field, there are still many unknowns as to what data is needed, how to best apply it, and how to merge patient outcome data with genetic data.

In our discussions, many of the conversations start out with the client believing that they need to sequence the full human genome in order to understand how their drugs are working with an individual. While this is true in some cases, the majority of the time is that this is not the case. At The Sequencing Center, we offer free consultation services to help guide clients towards the best results. This often starts by understanding the problem space, the drug, and the desired insights they want to glean.

From there, we often suggest looking at Targeted Sequencing which provides the client the ability to look at only the genes the drug interacts with as opposed to the whole genome. This is very beneficial as it is typically 3x cheaper than WGS, generates a lot less unnecessary data making it cheaper to store and manage, and decreases the turnaround time from over a week to sometimes hours.

There are many panels in the market that allow us to target certain sets of genes. Sometimes they’re only a handful (eg. 15 genes), other times they’re a large set of genes (eg. 1,300+). Additionally, we can create custom panels that target specific genes tailored to the client. This is ideal for many organizations looking to do pharmacogenomics because it not only maps directly to the genes the drug is interacting with but also provides a consistent dataset that is easily scaled out.

At the end of the day, there are many simplified options compared to WGS. We often recommend starting out with a scoped and simple approach through targeted sequencing. This helps test the waters, work out the kinks, and helps our clients explore what they want in a cost effective manner. From there, clients are more familiar with working with genetic data and can choose to go up to WGS.

If you’re a pharmaceutical or healthcare provider looking to explore the pharmacogenomics space, get in touch with us for free consultation and guidance.

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