Fast, Low-Cost Human Genomes Will Transform Our Lives

Comments Off on Fast, Low-Cost Human Genomes Will Transform Our Lives
Fast, Low-Cost Human Genomes Will Transform Our Lives

The human genome stores the information needed to replicate our bodies.  It is stored on 23 chromosome pairs and consists of just over 3 billion DNA base pairs.  This information could be stored in a computer in the form of a 725-megabyte data file.

The idea of determining the sequence and mapping the human genome can be traced back to 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick deduced the molecular structure of DNA.  However, it wasn't until the mid-1980s that a serious commitment was made toward that effort.  It was called the Human Genome Project. 

How the Box Works

How the Box Works

Thousands of scientists, working in more than 100 laboratories in nine different countries, contributed to the project.  In 2001, a draft of the complete human genome was published.  The total estimated cost was over $3 billion.

Many may wonder what benefit there is to having this information; what, if anything, can be done with it?  The answer lies in the understanding it brings about what the different genes do, how they affect human health, and how the genes that do not encode proteins act as switches to enable gene expression.

It's worth noting that for all the variation between human beings, the DNA sequence differs from one person to another by only one-tenth of one percent.  But, it is these differences that determine how each person looks, and to which diseases one is susceptible.

Statistics reveal just how important it can be to leverage genetic information:1

  • 60 percent of all people will, at some time in their lifetimes, be affected by a gene mutation.
  • 71 percent of admissions to a major U.S. pediatric hospital have an underlying genetic basis.
  • Only 1 percent of genetic disorders are
    diagnosed at birth.

This difference between the high number of pediatric admissions and the lower rate of diagnoses at birth reveals the potential that genome sequencing offers for early detection.  But it is no small task.  There are approximately 2,200 disorders for which we have identified an underlying causal gene.  For example, Cystic Fibrosis is linked to the mutation of a particular gene, which is known to mutate in 1,300 different ways.

Unfortunately, the exorbitant cost of sequencing has made producing a full human genome map for every person out of the realm of possibility — until now...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund