Saturday, October 13, 2007

Venter Wants to Map 10,000 Human Genomes in 10 Years

Genetics pioneer J. Craig Venter is preparing to sequence the genomes of as many as 50 people -- possibly including millionaires who pay for the privilege -- by the end of 2008. Within a decade, he hopes the number of sequenced genomes will reach 10,000.
50 by the end of '08, why that is great!
The news about Venter's genome convinced about 200 people to volunteer to take part in the Venter Institute's genome-testing project. It's not clear if any of them will actually participate, because the institute wants its subjects to represent a range of gender, ethnicity and common diseases.
They were looking for volunteers? How come nobody told me about that?
Some scientists predict personal genome testing may become generally available within five years, but Venter's group still expects tests to cost $300,000 each, said spokeswoman Heather Kowalski.
$300,000? I thought the price was $1 million at least. If they can really do it for that price range it has come down a lot more then I knew.
And, it seems, the institute is also interested in financial support from some of those who take part. That's where the millionaires come in, raising the touchy issue of pay-for-play. According to Levy, it's possible that the institute may develop a ratio of participants who pay to take part to those who don't, in order to guarantee that everyone not everyone has to shell out money to take part.
I don't understand why the pay-for-play issue is touchy. Rich people always get access to new technologies first and they pay for the privilege. Their early purchases at inflated prices support the research and development that brings the price down to a level that everyone can afford a few years later. This has been going on as long as technology has been around. For example, JP Morgan was the first person to have incandescent bulbs in his home. I call it trickle down technology, and I don't see anything wrong with it.

via Wired

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