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A team of three people, led by a Stanford professor, sequenced an entire human genome in one week

A Stanford University professor claims to have sequenced his entire genome using a team of two other people for less than $50,000, which would be an impressive feat considering just last year it took 250 people and $250,000.

"This is the first demonstration that you don't need a genome center to sequence a human genome," Stanford University Bioengineering professor Stephen Quake, PhD, said in a statement.  "It's really democratizing the fruits of the genome revolution and saying that anybody can play in this game."

Dr. Quake's Heliscope Single Molecule Sequencer is revolutionary since companies and genome sequencing researchers often have large staffs, huge budgets, and hundreds of machines at their disposal.  The Heliscope Single Molecule Sequencer has the functionality to sequence a person's human genome in one month and relies on a three-person staff.

This can now be done in one lab, with one machine, at a modest cost,” Quake also said in an interview.  “It’s going to unleash an enormous amount of creativity and really broaden the field.”

To put it into perspective of how difficult and expensive it is to sequence DNA, only seven human genomes have been confirmed as fully sequenced.  Dr. Quake's genome is now available to researchers, with other researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine now analyzing the data and asking Quake questions.

Researchers are looking ahead to the future, as Dr. Quake believes it should only be two or three years until the $1,000 genome goal is possible.  If genome sequencing is $1,500 or less, it's possible it could become a normal part of medical routine, used as a tool to help understand diseases and genetic abnormalities.

It's believed better understanding human DNA will offer an insight into the genetic roots of cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, or other major life threatening issues facing humans.  It could one day be possible to create personalized medicine custom created for people using genome sequencing, though researchers are unsure when this could be done.

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Make sure to educate yourself...
By jefmes on 8/13/2009 8:42:42 PM , Rating: 3
...before you start the fear-mongering. :P

GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) was one of the few bills Bush signed that I was actually happy about.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By Camikazi on 8/13/2009 9:12:22 PM , Rating: 2
Wonder who the 1 person in the House was that voted against that Act.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By ebakke on 8/13/2009 9:36:00 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By TSS on 8/14/2009 3:08:46 AM , Rating: 4
Well that figures.

It occurred to me during the article that there is a privacy issue here. After all, while DNA doesn't tell you anything about your thoughts, it tells pretty much everything else there is about you.

Just take insurers for example. They would LOVE a genome of every American. It'll tell them exactly who's going to get what so who's going to pay premium. Wether that's fair or not, well that will be debated the next decade after they hit the $1000 mark.

I'd figure Ron Paul would vote against it on principle. However i'd think if we resolve those other privacy issues first, this shouldn't become a problem (since it's an extreme it'll fall under a bill of something milder, say electronic patient files).

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By bhieb on 8/14/2009 9:49:04 AM , Rating: 2
Just take insurers for example. They would LOVE a genome of every American. It'll tell them exactly who's going to get what...

Well it would tell them exactly who would get what genetic disease, but the majority of bad stuff that can happen health wise is not 100% genetic.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By TSS on 8/14/2009 10:06:39 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, DNA doesn't tell you if your going to get hit by a bus.

But what if we could sequence your genome and that of your wife, and determine the likelyhood of a "undesirable" genetic disorder of your children?

Should you still have children if their 90% likely to have a disorder? What if it's 80%? 70%? 60%? 50%? 40%? 30%?

Who gets to decide that? You? Nono, your too emotionally attached to it. It's best if the government does it for you as society will also bear the burdens of a handicapped child.

Now as i said, i have faith these issues will be dealt with under other privacy issues. However, as my government tries to get electronic patient files which require you to fill in the average lenght of your pubic hair (no joke here), there's certainly no harm in beeing suspicous of governments.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By NaughtyGeek on 8/14/2009 11:27:48 AM , Rating: 3
Couple this with UHC and I can see a future where the .gov dictates whether or not you're allowed to have children based on your genetic profile. They won't have a problem getting enough support since the whole "you're going to cost me money because of your lifestyle" crowd will likely be easy converts to "your going to cost me money because of your genetics."

However, I can see this as a really positive thing if used in an appropriate manner. Imagine the scientific breakthroughs possible by having a much better understanding of our make up. Perhaps they can find a way to head off negative impact from genetic disorders before their symptoms appear. Science truly is a great thing.

By Mojo the Monkey on 8/14/2009 1:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
Couple this with LHC and I can see a future where the .gov dictates whether or not you're thrown into an artificial black hole.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By CSMR on 8/14/2009 6:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
You already know this to a large extent. You can tell which people are going to have children with low IQ, high propensity to crime, etc.. Society doesn't do anything about it, and you have a strong negative relationship between fertility and education/intelligence. If there are no changes to restore the relationship (which was positive a century ago), society is going to become pretty stupid (on average) in future.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By Mojo the Monkey on 8/14/2009 6:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen that movie too. Terrible acting.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By Flail on 8/15/2009 2:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
Weren't they... Supposed to be acting stupid?

By zinfamous on 8/14/2009 1:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
Nothing about your genetic information guarantees one outcome over the other. The information points to likelihood, an "increased chance of," perhaps; but all one can really do with genomic information is learn more, and in learning more we discover other factors that figure into these probabilities, and more importantly, treatment.

The problem with the insurance companies is they see this as yet another statistic to plug into their life contingency formulas, which is not only intellectually dishonest, but morally as well.

There is a lot to be said about human behavior and life habits, and so much of it influences our real health.

Knowing one may be more susceptible to colon cancer from an earlier age would likely lead someone to develop a more preventative lifestyle while young, live completely normally, and maybe "erase" that genetic fate.

NO ONE has any business touching this information but the individual.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By dgingeri on 8/13/2009 9:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, there were 9 who voted against it:

I found it interesting that 3 presidential candidates in the senate abstained

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By Etsp on 8/14/2009 12:43:17 AM , Rating: 2
That was May of 2008, they were out campaigning. This act passed with an overwhelming majority, there was no need for them to put their campaigns on hold to vote on it just so that they could say they did...

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By bhieb on 8/14/2009 9:52:07 AM , Rating: 2
True, but kind of funny. We as a people pay them to be in congress and doing their job, but they get to just slack off while they look for another job. Wonder if that would fly here. Hey can I slack off at work so I can see if someone else will hire me.

RE: Make sure to educate yourself...
By mcnabney on 8/14/2009 2:07:44 PM , Rating: 2
My employer provides paid time off for education, charitable work, jury service, voting, and pretty much anything which will improve my ability to perform better or advance to a higher job level. I would think that preparing/running for high office would be fairly similar.

By Mojo the Monkey on 8/14/2009 6:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
you work for the feds too?

By rbfowler9lfc on 8/13/2009 7:00:42 PM , Rating: 4
So dr. Quake got a kinda MD5-hash of himself, I guess? How odd is that...

RE: So....
By grath on 8/13/2009 10:02:46 PM , Rating: 5
Its not odd its even! Base PAIRS! DUH!

I map my ....uh genome twice a day
By sapiens74 on 8/13/2009 10:46:06 PM , Rating: 4
and three times on Sunday....

By Fnoob on 8/15/2009 2:24:30 AM , Rating: 3
Mapping your own genome too many times can lead to blindness and hairy palms.

Dr. Freeman maps own genome in one hour...
By bupkus on 8/14/2009 2:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
In other news, Dr. Freeman, an MIT PhD graduate and researcher in theoretical physics maps his own genome in under an hour using a device called a Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator.

Unfortunately, while researching a strange substance, Dr. Freeman reportedly has been teleported to a strange planet on the other side of our galaxy where visual graphics are extremely poor.

By chagrinnin on 8/14/2009 6:50:22 PM , Rating: 3
On the other hand, is excellent. This poor bastard has been screamin' for about a week now.

DNA Analiser, conveniently packed....
By greylica on 8/13/2009 9:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
I am waiting for a machine girl like the one showed in the ''Terminator III'' using their tongue to analyse my entire DNA...

- Night nuuuurse, only you alone can quenches that thirst...
- My night nuuurse....


By niaaa on 8/14/2009 4:53:56 AM , Rating: 2
Gregory Isaacs FTW ! :)

One week?
By geekman1024 on 8/14/2009 3:23:27 AM , Rating: 2
My, my.... This Professor, he must be a simple guy.

RE: One week?
By Fnoob on 8/15/2009 2:30:14 AM , Rating: 2

"Hey Quakester, what are you doing this weekend? How bout you me and Poindexter map our genomes?"

GATTACA coming true...
By zozzlhandler on 8/13/2009 7:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
I keep seeing science fiction stories and movies trying to come true. This time it looks like Gattaca...

Look out!!
By gookpwr on 8/13/2009 7:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
Gattica here we come. All of us God babies are going to be obsolete.

A year from now
By deeznuts on 8/14/2009 4:00:45 AM , Rating: 2
a year from now, you can do it on a dual core atom and Ion netbook.

Reading Tea Leaves
By knitecrow on 8/14/2009 6:51:11 AM , Rating: 2
Sequencing the genome is the easy part; the hard part is trying to figure out the proteins, RNA etc it encodes and how those are regulated. Just because a gene is encoded, does not mean that it will be expressed, there is an immensely complex regulatory system in place.

What we are doing so far is just dumb trial and error. Genetics still has a long way to go before we can get designer babies, if ever.

Designer Babies
By william2828 on 8/15/2009 11:28:20 PM , Rating: 2
Creating designer babies may guarantee the "obsolescence" of the parents. Therefore, it is in parents best interests not too make their children too smart, lest they can control them (the parents). Somatic (adult) not germline (offspring) modification would be better.
On a side note, the Helicos system looks fairly decent.

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There is no gene for the human spirit
By corduroygt on 8/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: There is no gene for the human spirit
By TheEinstein on 8/13/2009 7:01:23 PM , Rating: 3
There is no gene for 'education', 'friends', 'background', 'faith', 'determination', or 'luck'.

Yet if gene sequencing is the 'norm' then we are never going to see those when we put our sequence on the application.

By tygrus on 8/17/2009 2:33:08 AM , Rating: 2
There is no such thing as the perfect human gnome profile. Many attributes interact as an increase to attribute A results in the decrease of attribute B & C when all A,B&C are wanted. If we could all be doctors, civilisation would crumble. We need all types of people.

Someone with high IQ may be able to focus on a complex task but at the expensive of remembering the milk on the way home or communicating with others. Any attempt to be selective will ultimately weaken the human genome as unknown features are lost before being identified as being required to fight a new disease.

You can make plants grow more food but then the plant requires more nutrients/sun and more susceptible to disease or food with lower nutrients/kg. Swings and roundabouts, complex trade-offs.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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