Speaking at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Convention 2003 in Washington DC Leroy Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, predicts personal genome sequencing for under $1000 within 10 years.
Within about 10 years, advances in nanotechnology and other predictive models will allow the fast and cheap sequencing of individuals' genomes, Hood said, which in turn will lead to advances in predictive medicine. As scientists are able to look at 30,000 or more genes for each patient, doctors could use such genome sequences to predict what health problems the individual patient is likely to face, he said.
"I think we will have an instrumentation that could well bring sequencing of the human genome ... down to a 20-minute process and do it for under $1,000," Hood said. "This changes the way we think about predictive medicine."
Suppose the 10 year goal for reducing DNA sequencing costs is achieved. Will the ability to get one's own DNA sequenced be useful? Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is promoting the goal of identifyng all the genetic risk factors for major diseases in 7 or 8 years.
Collins called on the biotechnology and medical communities to identify the risk factors for all major common diseases in the next seven to eight years.
Once we can cheaply sequence each person's DNA then genetic variations that increase the risk of side effects from taking specific drugs will be identified for a large number of drugs. Combine the ability to guide drug choice with the ability to more accurately predict the risk of developing various illnesses and it will become possible to devise low-risk strategies for reducing the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Once DNA sequencing is cheap and the risk factors are all identified the big pay-off will come from the development of treatments that cancel out and eliminate the risks that particular genetic variations cause. Drugs, gene therapy, and other approaches will be developed to reduce or eliminate specific risk factors. A great deal gets written about the potential ways that individual genetic privacy needs to be protected in order to prevent discrimination against people who have genetic risk factors for diseases. But individual genetic risk profiles offer far more potential for benefit than harm.
Look at it this way: if one person is a risk for a variety of illnesses due to genetic risk factors and another person has little in the way of genetic risks then who is in a better position to benefit from the knowledge of their genetic risk profile? The person who has the risks needs to know about them in order to act to somehow mitigate some of those risks. The person who doesn't have the genetic risks benefits far less from being told they do not have the risks because the knowledge really doesn't help them do anything to protect their health.
Someone who has a genetic endowment that'll keep them alive til age 95 even if they smoke and eat junk food is far less in need of biotechnological advances that are designed to deal with genetically-caused health risks. Someone who has a genetic variation that puts then at enormous risk of getting heart disease or cancer by age 55 is in desperate need of the treatments that will be designed to cancel out genetic risks. The good news is that leading figures in biotechnology and science are increasingly of the opinion that the day is not far off when we will each individually begin to benefit from detailed knowledge of our individual genetic make-ups.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2003 June 25 06:04 PM Biotech Advance Rates|