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Cambridge’s Knome pioneers the new science of DNA gene sequencing: is there a DNA scan in your health care future? March 8, 2010

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Health Care IT, Startups.
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Gene researchers have been anticipating for years now about how gene sequencing technology will revolutionize the practice of medicine. With the steady advancement of Moore’s law-induced cost lowering, cheap gene sequencing means this revolution is now underway. The cost of decoding all 6 Billion letters in the human genome has dropped from around $1 Million in 2007 to less than $20,000 today.

Already the cost of performing a gene scan on a patient can be lowered to $2,500 if a two-step method is used to extract and sequence only the 1% of the gene sequences that contain known genes. New gene sequencers being introduced by companies such as Illumina and Life Technologies could lower the cost of sequencing an entire patient’s genome to below $3,000 by the end of 2010.

Although DNA sequencers have not been approved for use in medical testing, and insurers don’t pay for sequencing, peering into the DNA of wealthy patients with rare and scary diseases is becoming an option.

Knome, a privately held, Cambridge, Massachusetts based company, started out in 2008 by charging up to $350,000 to arrange sequencing and interpretation of the gene data for wealthy patrons as a vanity project. The company now offers the scans for as little as $25,000. The company’s CEO, Jorge Conde, is said to have expressed that several patients hoping to use the scans to guide their care providers in diagnosis and prescription. Cancer patients may be among the first to benefit from DNA sequencing technology.

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