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Genome Research: What it is, and What it Could Mean to You

By Christine Jeffries
 
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It takes a long time and a lot of work to get important discoveries like genomics from the laboratory to practice in the medical field, and especially so in regard to creating drugs. It was, however, noted in a Yahoo! Health article, “Major Advances Predicted for Health and Medicine in 2011,” that genomics may soon become more affordable, making it easier to find already approved treatments that will work for you and that could also detect disease earlier.

So What’s a Genome?

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the chemical compound that contains the instructions needed to develop and direct the activities of nearly all living organisms. An organism's complete set of DNA is called its genome—basically the biological road map of who you are. The Human Genome Project, led by the National Institutes of Health and the National Human Genome Research Institute, originally completed a human genome sample constructed in April of 2003 from nearly 100 blood samples donated blindly. This high-quality data is available in public databases for conducting biomedical studies--for instance, in studying genetic variations that increase the risk of cancer.

What Could this Mean for Medicine and Health?

It originally cost about $3 billion dollars to sequence a human genome a decade ago. A year ago, it cost roughly $10,000. That price is expected to again drop, and soon it may cost around $4,000. This drop in the cost to sequence an entire human genome may allow more medical advances. According to a doctor in the field quoted in the Yahoo! Health article, genome research is exploding.

Adding to that, the “Steve Jobs of DNA Sequencing,” Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, wants to “do for DNA sequencing what Steve Jobs did for computers.” As explained in a New York Times article published in early January, 2011, Rothberg, the founder of Ion Torrent, recently began selling a machine priced at around $50,000 called the Personal Genome Machine.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Christine Jeffries

Thanks Kelley,
I also find it exciting. I am fascinated by this type of technology and coming advancements in health & medicine. Glad you liked the article.

January 6, 2011 - 10:23am
Kelley Howard

This is a great article and points out how exciting this emerging area of medicine is for every one.
Great Article!

January 6, 2011 - 10:08am
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