A very interesting article in the New Scientist published last week by Peter Aldhous examines the approach of affordable whole-genome sequencing. The article mentions 23andme, the recently published genomes of James Watson and J. Craig Venter, and the Personal Genome Project.
“Thanks to the advances in sequencing technology, that might be done for as little as $1000 per person. â€œDNA chipsâ€, meanwhile, can scan your genome for common â€œspelling mistakesâ€ for just a few hundred dollars. At that price, the era of personalised genomics is already dawning. â€œThis is the year,â€ claims [Dr. George] Church.”
Mr. Aldhous’ article doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff either. Although I could potentially obtain my entire genomic sequence if I had $1 million lying around, very little of the information would be interpretable. We still have so very much to learn about our DNA. A great quote comes from Michael Egholm of 454 Life Sciences:
“Weâ€™re going to have routine genome sequencing long before physicians know how to make any sense of it.”
Interestingly, Dr. Church believes that people will have at least their protein-sequencing regions sequenced before the $1000 genome is available, at which time they will all “upgrade.” Although I certainly don’t have Dr. Church’s expertise, I’ve always thought that the amount of time between those two events (affordable genome “sampling” and affordable whole-genome sequencing) will be so short that there will be few people who require an upgrade.
HT: Hsien at Eye on DNA.