The New York Times ran an article this morning on how two research teams have independently decoded the entire genome of patients to find the exact genetic cause of their diseases. Despite the full human genome being sequenced a decade ago in the $10 Billion Human Genome Project, this is apparently the first time the genome for a sick patient has been recorded — and all for the “reasonable” cost of $50,000.

A new, more cost-effective process is planned to capture the genetic blueprint of 100 sick patients next year, is great news for those with rare genetic diseases and may help researchers understand more common ones like cancer but what does it mean for genealogy? Well the company using the new method, Complete Genomics in Mountainview, CA is expected to be able to do it for $25,000 each and is scaling up to be able to get the price down to $10,000 soon. The company’s chief exec Richard Reid even said “We are on our way to the $5,000 genome.” Five-thousand dollars is no chump change, but begins to be within reach for a lot more family historians who would like to look at their ancestral DNA in the way shown recently on the PBS program “Faces of America” with Henry Louis Gates. Using a full sequencing of his father’s genome and his own, geneticists (from 23andMe*) were able to “subtract” one from the other and show Dr. Gates the genes he inherited only from his mother. Very exciting stuff indeed!

Notes & Sources:
*Note: 23andMe does not seem to offer full genome sequencing but rather mDNA, yDNA and sequencing of 600,000 gene positions, apparently enough for the analysis shown in Faces of America

Nicholas Wade. “Disease Cause is Pinpointed with Genome.” New York Times. March 10, 2010
Image “Human Genome” via Wikimedia Commons. Revised from “Human Genome to Genes” by Webridge 3 August 2007 and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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