March 29, 2020
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The world’s last trillion dollar industry
was created out of computer code. The world’s next trillion dollar industry
is going to be created out of a genetic code. Our bodies are made up of about 25,000 genes
and the first human genome was mapped about 15 years ago. It was done so over a period of about a decade
and at a cost of 2.7 billion dollars. Just five years ago Steve Jobs was one of
ten people who had the privilege of paying $100,000 to get his genome mapped. Today the same thing that cost 2.7 billion
dollars 15 years ago or $100,000 five years ago costs a couple thousand dollars. And that cost is going to continue to go down. What does this mean? It means two things. It means we are going to be able to diagnose
illnesses far, far, far, far earlier. And it means we’re going to be able to develop
precision medicines. First on precision medicines. Right now if you get an illness you go to
your doctor and depending on what you have they’ll prescribe you one or two medicines. If you’re fat you’ll get a big dosage. If you’re skinny you’ll get a lower dosage. That’s the personalization. In the future as what I think will be as soon
as four or five years when we get medicines they will be personalized to account for our
personal genetic makeup as well as the specific genetic makeup of the illness that we have. And what I think this will do is it quite
likely will add a couple years of expected life expectancy to all of us. It’s kind of a big deal. The second thing – early diagnosis of illnesses. I play racquetball every now and then with
this guy named Bert Vogelstein. And when I first met Bert Vogelstein I thought
he was a gym rat. He’s sort of this scraggly old guy in his
60s, gray beard, wears a knee brace over his 1970 style gray sweatpants, carts his racquetball
gear to the court in a dingy old Samsonite suitcase. It turns out Bert is the world’s most cited
living scientist. He’s Dr. Bert Vogelstein from Johns Hopkins
University. And some 30 years ago he and his team of researchers
determined how mutations in proteins cause cancer. Kind of a big deal. So now Bert and his team of researchers at
Johns Hopkins have developed something called a liquid biopsy. And what a liquid biopsy does is it takes
a blood sample, you know, just like we get at our annual checkup now testing for things
like cholesterol levels and whether you’ve got an STD. And in that blood sample they can detect cancerous
cells at 1/100 the size of what can be detected by an MRI. What does that mean? It means that cancers that are routinely found
in stages 3 and 4 and which are more likely than not fatal will be found early in stage
1 where cure rates are far, far higher. This is another life expectancy changer. This is another thing that is going to add
years to many people’s lives.

David Frank