More than 20,000 people are expected to attend BIO 2007, the world's largest biotech conference.
Stephen Heuser, a reporter for the Globe, covers biotechnology, medical devices, and the life-science industry.
Christopher Rowland , Globe reporter, covers the healthcare economy, including doctors and hospitals, insurance, and research.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Your personal genome coming right up
Get ready for the $1,000 human genome.
Federally funded research is set to produce the first personalized genome prototypes by about 2013 in an effort to create genetic profiles for individuals.
In the next decade, scientists told the MIT Emerging Technologies Conference this afternoon, every person will be able to pay about $1,000 to have their DNA run through high-throughput sequencing technolgies. The resulting genotypes will be interpreted for traits, disease potential, and lifestyle issues, they said.
"What we really want to go along with it is a complete catalogue of human variation" to identify genetic mutations and susceptibility to disease, said George Weinstock, co-director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine.
But people will have to go through a "transition period" before they grasp the implications of such technology for health and science, predicted George M. Church, professor of genetics and director of the Center for Computational Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Church likened the problem to public awareness of the personal computer before an electronic spreadsheet was invented or of the Internet before the World Wide Web. "You couldn't get this many people in a room interested in computers and the Internet," he recalled. "They'd say, 'What on earth could you do with that?'"
Many hurdles will have to be surmounted in the early years of the $1,000 genome, Weinstock cautioned.
"My guess is the first $1,000 genome we'll see will be only 90 percent complete," he said. "The accuracy is what we're all waiting to see."
(By Robert Weisman, Globe staff)