Genome Sequencing Comes of Age

A small but growing vanguard of people, mostly with rare diseases and cancers, have come to better understand their condition through sequencing their families' genome. 

What's the Latest Development?

As human genome sequencing is becoming cheaper and faster, clinics around the world are beginning to routinely analyse the genomes of those who might benefit from the information. "It's time to push the accelerator," says Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. One California company offers whole genome sequencing for as little as $7,500 for people with life-threatening diseases. As prices continue to fall, some say the tests may become as common as MRI scans. 

What's the Big Idea?

Moving whole-genome sequencing from the research lab to the clinic is still beset with challenges—those who currently benefit from genome sequencing typically have rare diseases and cancers. "The institutional review boards that oversee research in humans have not reached a consensus on whether approval is needed for clinical genome sequencing and the Food and Drug Administration is yet to work out how to regulate the coming wave of clinical sequencing." Physicians worry that the healthcare infrastructure is not prepared for the influx of data sequencing provides. 

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