The future of genetics is highly personal—and a little unnerving. Here are some of the applications that researchers are exploring.
Certain genes are associated with endurance and strength, which could signal what sports you’re likely to excel at. DNA may also reveal if a person is at a higher risk for debilitating sports-related injuries, such as stress fractures and ACL ruptures—information that can be used to create training and physical therapy regimens. Linkages between nutrition and genomics could also inform an athlete’s diet.
For more than a decade, relatives have been brought together through DNA testing, which reveals forgotten branches of family trees, along with ancestry dating back millennia. The next step may be anticipating romantic connections. “Gene-matching” dating sites are already starting to proliferate, promising to use DNA to find the perfect date. But be warned: The science is iffy at best.
HEALTH AND MEDICINE
Genomics is already vital in pre-pregnancy and oncology screenings. Doctors use DNA to track how tumors respond to treatments, and are starting to discover how it might inform a person’s response to drugs. Companies are also working to determine if genetics could reveal someone’s susceptibility to addiction, but critics say they might be getting ahead of the science.
Researchers believe that genetics may explain why people taste certain foods, like cilantro, so differently. (To some, it tastes like soap.) They are also exploring how to use genomics to help with weight management by providing customized dietary advice. Meanwhile, beauty giant L’Oréal has invested in research to develop anti-aging products based on the molecular signature of young skin.