Once only a subject for science fiction movies, whole genome sequencing is rapidly becoming a reality for the masses. So, what does this mean for you?... Davies does a commendable job of answering that question.
--The Spittoon (spittoon.23andme.com)
Kevin Davies' The $1,000 Genome
deserves to be widely read... It presents a careful and I think entertaining view of the past and possible future of personal genomics. --Keith Robison -- "Omics! Omics" (omicsomics.blogspot.com)
In this informative and accessible work of scientific journalism, Englishman Kevin Davies predicts that personalized genome sequencing will soon become so affordable that it will revolutionize medicine. --Winnipeg Free Press
``The great impact of a new technology – from cotton underwear to the jet to the computer – comes not when it is invented, but when it becomes cheap enough to be within the reach of everybody. Gene sequencing has now reached that point. With unrivalled knowledge of the people who made this possible, Kevin Davies eloquently explains how it came about, and hints at what will come next.’’ (Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist)
From the Author
Although I've been writing about "the $1,000 genome" since 2002, it was two key events in 2007 that really sparked the concept for this book. The first was the presentation to Jim Watson in May of his digital genome sequence on a portable hard drive -- the first "personal genome" decoded using a new kind of DNA sequencing technology. Although the cost of Watson's genome was about $1 million, that was still a fraction of the $2.3 billion spent on the Human Genome Project.
The second was my first conversation with the co-founder of 23andMe, a pioneering consumer genomics company offering tantalizing personal genomic information at an affordable price (less than $1,000) to the public at large. Since then, tens of thousands of people have sent saliva samples to various consumer genomics firms. In a handful of cases, some recounted in the book, the results are nothing short of life-changing, and possibly life-saving.
Since 2007, the cost of genome sequencing has plummeted at an astonishing rate. Today, anyone can get their genome sequenced for less than $20,000, and that price will inevitably drop to $1,000 in the coming years as new technologies arrive. Imagine getting a full genome scan as easily and routinely as an MRI -- and without the claustrophobia! Even better, imagine a Star Trek
Tricorder device reading your complete genetic code in a matter of minutes! That's a very real possibility in the next few years.
The bigger question, however, is whether that is going to make a difference to the health of yourself and your family? Having access to your full genome isn't magically going to reveal whether you're going to develop diabetes, cancer or heart disease, but it is going to become a fundamental part of your medical record. Among the challenges ahead of us discussed in the book: Will our genome data be kept private? Will we be subject to insurance or employment discrimination if we have our DNA sequenced? What can my genome really tell me about my disease risk? Who is going to explain that analysis to me -- not to mention my family doctor?
My intention in The $1,000 Genome
isn't necessarily to answer all those questions, but to raise awareness of the rapidly approaching era of genome sequencing and increasingly personalized medicine. The technology will be with us very soon: the medical, legal and health care professions need to start preparing now. As should you!