What will the $1000 genome do for you?


BookThe $1,000 genome has been hotly sought ever since a crude map of the human genome was first published in 2001. The Carlsbad, Calif. biotech company, part of Life Technologies, will sell its device to research labs and medical clinics for $99,000 to $149,000, compared to the current price of about $750,000 for existing sequencers, Reuters reported on its website Tuesday. According to Reuters, a doctor will be able to sequence a patient’s entire genome for $1,000, compared to the current rate of $3,000 just to test for breast cancer gene mutations, for example. And the company says its new machine can complete the genome analysis within a day, rather than the two months previously needed. It's widely believed this type of genetic analysis will revolutionize medicine, that patients will learn their risk profile for potential diseases by having their DNA read right in the doctor's office. Drugs and vaccines will be designed to fit our genes, in order to maximize efficacy and minimize any side-effects. Newborn babies would have someone peek at their genes so parents could take steps to prevent genetic risks from becoming realities.

…Will genetic information be any more motivating to get people to lose weight, stop smoking, reduce their stress, stay active, wear a seatbelt or a condom, than stepping on a scale or coping with a smokers’ hack? Two cheers to scientists and businessmen for reaching the $1,000 genome. But, only two cheers. There is a long way to go before the achievement gets translated into bottom line health results that we can put to practical use.

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