Monday, March 10, 2008

Gene Map Becomes a Luxury Item

On a cold day in January, Dan Stoicescu, a millionaire living in Switzerland, became the second person in the world to buy the full sequence of his own genetic code.
Hmm, I wonder who the first was?
He is also among a relatively small group of individuals who could afford the $350,000 price tag. Mr. Stoicescu is the first customer of Knome, a Cambridge-based company that has promised to parse his genetic blueprint by spring.

Knome is not the only firm in the private genome business. Illumina, a sequencing firm in San Diego, plans to sell whole genome sequencing to the “rich and famous market” this year, said its chief executive, Jay Flatley. If competition drives prices down, the personal genome may quickly lose its exclusivity. The nonprofit X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the first group to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days, for $10,000 or less per genome. The federal government is supporting technology development with an eye to a $1,000 genome in the next decade.
Cool, I didn't know that this service was available to the public yet. While it is expensive, I am kind of surprised that this service hasn't been publicly available earlier at a higher price. I would have thought for sure one of the tech titans like Gates, Ellison or one of the Google founders would have paid multiple millions to be sequenced.
“What the heck am I doing?” Mr. Stoicescu recalls wondering. “And how many children in Africa might have been fed?”
That is an interesting question, but I think he could also be wondering how many lives he will be saving in the future. By purchasing this now, he is helping to fund the research and development of this sequencing technology which will drive down the costs to a price that any American can afford. And by doing that, he will help advance medical research that will save and prolong lives in the future.

via NY Times

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