The original Human Genome project took more than 10 years to successfully make a "rough draft" map of a single strand of DNA. But now, a new piece of machinery could let us map a strand in only a few days.
The Genome Institute at the University of Washington recently received a new gene sequencing device that allows them to fully map the human genome in less than five days.
"We have an opportunity to push genomics into the clinic and understand what causes disease and ultimately learn how to predict disease," Rick Wilson, director of the Genome Institute, told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Many in the genomics field believe this new technology will offer the fastest way to increase testing and find out more about particular genetic diseases.
"If you have 10,000 people with Alzheimer's and 10,000 people who never showed signs of the disease, the idea is that you could sequence both those groups and learn something about Alzheimer's," Wilson tells the Salt Lake Tribune. "Because every human is different from every other human, you can't do that with just five people with Alzheimer's and five people without. You won't have enough data to pinpoint the differences."
Some are even willing to bet that this particular technological development could help make genomics a household practice. "In five years, My iPhone or something like it is going to sequence my genome," Wilson speculates.
This ultra-fast sequencing machine can be bought in units of 10, and is capable of sequencing 18,000 human genomes a year at just $1,000 to $1,500 per genome. The machines alone cost more than $1 million a machine. The last of the ten machines will arrive at the Genome Institute – one of seven laboratories that received access to the sequencer – in May.