Friday, October 16, 2009

genome tipping point

I've been saying this in my nanoworld book already: if the living cell can read a single molecule of DNA, why can't we? Now, at last, single molecule genome sequencing has arrived, and it promises to revolutionise genome sequencing by reducing its price to a level where it can become part of standard medical provision in many countries. For instance, cancer treatments could routinely be based on comparison of the genomes of tumour and healthy cells of the specific patient, so the doctors can identify the Achilles heel of this particular tumour.

Three companies are competing with different approaches to this goal. While they weren't keen on making predictions regarding times and prices, I found out very interesting things about their technologies. My news feature on this is now out:

The $1000 genome in sight with the latest technology
The price of sequencing an entire human genome is falling fast, thanks to a new generation of sequencing technologies, but how low can it go?
Chemistry & Industry No. 19, p 14-15.
surprisingly, it appears to be open access


Incidentally, one of the companies involved, Helicos BioSciences, also has a paper in last week's issue of Nature, on sequencing cellular RNA directly (without producing complementary DNA first) and at single molecule level.
That's Nature 461, 814.

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