October 29, 2010
Order Of Magnitude More Gene Sequencing In 2011

Nature estimates that the number of sequenced human genomes will go up by about an order of magnitude between now and the end of 2011.

Although far from comprehensive, the tally indicates that at least 2,700 human genomes will have been completed by the end of this month, and that the total will rise to more than 30,000 by the end of 2011.

This is an example of why I keep saying that the floodgates on genetic data are opening, that the rate of discovery of what genetic mutations mean is rapidly accelerating, and that we will soon learn enormous amounts about what many thousands of our genetic variants mean. The utility of getting yourself genetically tested is going to rise sharply.

Whole genome sequencing has started to enter into clinical medical practice.

It may be small-scale and without fanfare, but genomic medicine has clearly arrived in the United States. A handful of physicians have quietly begun using whole-genome sequencing in attempts to diagnose patients whose conditions defy other available tools.

The cost of full genome sequencing is now below $20k and falling. The ability of moderately affluent individuals to pay for their own genome sequencing for diagnostic purposes creates an additional source of genetic data. Unless regulators get in the way the ability of individuals to get their genomes sequenced will soon make individuals rather than large research centers the largest source of demand for genome sequencing services. This is a healthy development because individual demand will generate more sequence data and therefore more data to analyze to discover the meaning of human genetic variations. Anyone who pays to get their own genome sequenced who also volunteers to allow their genetic data to be used by researchers will help speed the search for the functional significance of all the genetic variants in humans.

Rapid changes often elicit opposition. In this case some commentators raise objections to personal genetic profiling services. But I see the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model of genetic testing and genetic sequencing as a great accelerator of the rate of production of genetic sequence information. I want the right to get myself thoroughly genetically tested. Tell your elected officials the law should recognize your right to get yourself genetically tested.

We are all genetically unique. You probably have about 60 unique genetic mutations. So the search for all the genetic variants is not going to end until all humans have their genomes sequenced.

Earlier this year, Jorde, who is on the 1000 Genomes Project steering committee, was part of the team that was the first to sequence the genome of an entire family two parents and two children who live in Utah. As part of that study, published in March in Science, he estimated the rate at which genetic mutations are passed from generation to generation at 60 meaning each parent passes 30 genetic mutations to their offspring. Most gene mutations are harmless, but understanding the rate at which mutations are passed among generations is an essential part of understanding the human biological clock, according to Jorde. To confirm his estimated mutation rate, which was half of what had been estimated previously by indirect methods, researchers in the current study sequenced the genomes of two families of three people each.

"We were delighted that the mutation rate estimate obtained from the 1000 Genomes Project was exactly the same as our estimate," Jorde said.

Scientists involved with the 1000 Genomes Project think they've now identified 95% of all genetic variations. Next comes the meaning of all these genetic differences and the ability to get yourself genetically tested for a low price. You can already get hundreds thousands of genetic differences checked for several hundred dollars. I'm starting to think seriously about getting detailed genetic tests.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 October 29 12:18 AM  Biotech Advance Rates

Phillep Harding said at October 29, 2010 7:50 AM:

This should tighten up estimates regarding genetic bottlenecks (such as Toba) and their effects, but I wish they were sequencing longer genetic lines. Some families keep locks of hair of ancestors in family bibles, as well as families that have crypts, so the raw material is around. A mere three families, and only parents and children? The sample size is shameful.

James Bowery said at October 29, 2010 9:29 AM:

Now is the time for some Jewish scientist to write a book titled "Scientific Anti-Racism" decrying the 20th century dark ages of the study of human biodiversity -- of course, downplaying the role of guys like Boas.

It's sure to be a very "controversial" "edgy" book with lots of media buzz pegging it to the NYT Bestseller List and the subject of a NOVA special. The NPR Science Friday interview of the author by Ira Flatow will provide many-a "tsk tsk" moments.

Lindi said at October 29, 2010 11:48 AM:

Why are these projects so critical? It seems obvious to me, when the JEWS sued God in supreme court, they knew that being the 'chosen' ones, meant that they were not to judge or claim Israel as the state--tossing all other humans, aside. Now the banks will know who and what to do with bodies; who live and who dies...(Confidentially). They may resort to what they did to the Iraq people--using 'technologies', silent frequencies--synthetic telepathy, to have over two hundred Iraq troops surrender, not one shot fired.

James Bowery said at October 29, 2010 12:45 PM:

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot the "Jewish conspiracy":

As usual anyone who notices a pattern of ethnic nepotism among Jews and talks about it will be a conspiracy theorist. I mean such patterns, if they aren't mere hallucinations of guys who secretly masturbate to pictures of Hitler, have to be the result of a conspiracy. I mean, let's be reasonable: Jews, unlike the rest of us collectivist scum, would never use the positions of power and influence to which their IQs destine them, with unconsciously ethnic bias. I mean that would result in thinking that genetics might have something to do with behavioral biases toward ingroups or something and, of course, although that is no longer ridiculous to conceive for other groups, it is a mere canard that it might apply to Jews.

I mean, let's be reasonable here...

kurt9 said at October 29, 2010 1:50 PM:

The only problem is that very little disease is genetically caused, contrary to all of the hype generated by the medical and the government-funded R&D milieu. Thus, the myth of personalized medicine will remain a myth. Of course, what this genetic science will do is to parse out all of the correlations between genetics and various traits like intelligence, executive function, and athleticism. Since these vary by race, this information will be very contentious to say the least.

If it doesn't help much to treat disease, at least it will create lots of entertainment in the political debate on the internet.

Mthson said at October 29, 2010 1:58 PM:

James Bowery,

It's of course interesting and fair to look at Jews' influence on history, but it seems like you might be giving the Jewish population more credit than they deserve for the rise of Western liberalism.

All Western nations are very liberal now, even those that have even smaller proportions of Jews than the 2% present in the US.

Peter Thiel's thesis that events like women winning voting rights caused society to become very soft (i.e. liberal) seems much more likely.

Books like those of Gould, and on the other hand Pinker, sell well because the books agree with many Whites' individual nature.

James Bowery said at October 29, 2010 2:52 PM:

That's IT! "Scientific Antiracism" by Dr. Steven Pinker!

A sure bet.

Randall Parker said at October 31, 2010 10:22 AM:


I expect we individually will get big value from genetic testing. For example:

- to identify very early stage cancers before they metastasize. This could be the biggest value in the next 10 to 20 years.

- to tailor our individual diets to the foods we are best suited for.

- to identify risks for auto-immune diseases.

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