Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Genetic Early Adopters

Most of the time, people predicting the future provide simplistic extrapolations of today’s trends.

I reckon this development is truly amazing and could genuinely lead to whole new industries within a decade.

This month Knome (based in Cambridge, MA) handed out the first of its precious products: an engraved silver box housing a USB drive. On the drive, protected by encryption software, was the sequence of the recipient's entire genome, a proprietary analysis of his genetic risks for disease, and software for browsing the data.

Anybody with $350,000 to spare and an adventurous spirit can now have his or her own genome sequenced.

Knome has not yet disclosed the number of people who have signed up for its service but it aims to sequence 20 genomes this year.

This article in Technology Review is really worth reading since it provides a lot more insights into personal genome sequencing developments.

But just consider this. If it costs $350,000 today, what is it likely to cost in 5 or 10 years time? Most certainly it will be a sum that is well within the spending range of most people. Also, think of the volume of new software developments these developments will stimulate and hence the increased range of uses of the raw data.

There you are – a trip to the local drug store for your personalised medicine all thanks to the USB stick equivalent that is dangling on your key ring. Think this is a fantasy? Have a read of this. Dick Stroud

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