So far, [the narrative is] so heartwarming; or so it might seem. After all, if scientists can understand the architecture of cancers, this should help them find better cures. No surprise, then, that investor interest in biomedicine is rising after several years of neglect. Indeed, the money raised through biomedical companies’ initial public offerings has jumped to $1.7bn this year, the highest level since 2000.
Sadly there is a catch; at least two challenges threaten to stop this new genomic revolution in its tracks. The first is an obvious one: as a fiscal squeeze bites in the western world, research budgets are being slashed for biomedicine and much else. This matters because even though the cost of sequencing the genome has plunged, the costs of other types of medical research remain high.
The second issue is more subtle: one consequence of the wave of recent cyber surveillance scandals is that voters are becoming more nervous about privacy. That is affecting not just online communication; it could also undermine scientists’ efforts to collect a big enough pool of genomic data to do their research.