Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Age of the $1,000 Genome

The irony of some events deserve comment. On October 24th such an event will take place in San Francisco. The advance flyer announces:

"New DNA sequencing tools are improving at such a rapid pace that scientists say it will soon be possible to generate the 3-billion-letter signature of an individual’s DNA for $1,000, and possibly in as little as 15 minutes of work. If this can be done on a large scale, scientists expect it will create an enormously deep set of information to clear the way for a more personalized brand of medicine."

Some are predicting that this milestone will be reached within 5 years. The astute reader of this blog post, if you have followed the above link, will have noted that the "at the door" registration for this half-day conference is half the price that it is predicted to cost to sequence the entire human genome within a few years. Of course early bird and student admission rates are considerably less. However, it makes one wonder if it will soon cost less to sequence the entire human genome than it will to attend a conference to hear experts talk about that process. This technology is now accelerating at a rate that rivals that shown by computing power over the last three decades. Once again technological advance are outstripping our ability to decide on the appropriate legal and ethical norms that are appropriate to take best advantage of the potential benefits and at the same time offer protection to individuals and society as a whole from the potential misuse of these advances.

Luke Timmerman's article @ offers more information on this conference and the speakers who are going to present. Ready or not the age of the $1,000 genome is coming faster than many of us think.

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