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The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized Medicine Hardcover – September 7, 2010
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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!
Top customer reviews
Also the ancestral reports are incorrect, they need to look at all the chromosomes not just XX and XY. A lot of historical data is missing.
It is not for people who already understand the science.
I work in the sector but in the finance department and it gave me a much better idea of what our science folks are up to. I am delighted with it as that is what I was looking for.
This book heightened my interest in biomedicine and gave me several new topics to which I will return.
I commend it to those with intellectual curiousity and little knowledge of this field.
Don't read this looking to find more about sequencing technology or uses. The book has about the technical content of a USA today article.
Here's the full description of the rise of Curagen: "He invented a patented method for studying gene expression by looking up activity patterns in a database, which he dubbed "GeneCalling". Two sentences later the company "had raised some $600 million" and it's "estimated that his major investors each made $100 million". They made money by raising money? Or does the paragraph intend to say that Curagen was *sold* for $600M? Somebody paid $600M for a method of looking up patterns in a database? Really?
This is the book for you if you want descriptions of colorful characters and what they say about each other, reporting on parties and publicity events, anecdotes about genetic defects in the relatives of people involved in the companies, ethical issues in consumer sequencing, and other such human interest flotsam.
Not for you if you'd like to learn what the technology is and what can be done with it.
Regrettably, that's about the only organization this book provides. Besides that strange distinction of weighing all the good in the beginning and all the bad at the end (if you can even read that far), it offers no form of organization. There are chapters, but they don't flow or have any point. The author chooses to leap around from time point to time point, and since we're only talking about a 5 year period of time, it makes it near impossible to follow.
There is no linear thought process to the book. It's just a splattering of everything that went through the authors mind. I'm sure in his brain, he saw a natural progression of reasoning about why he'd start talking about this company, jump to this company from 2 years prior, then move over to this event that happen around the same time, before leaping to a backstory about some guys aunt, but when it hits paper, it just becomes a confusing muddle of stuff.
This causes it to be very difficult to understand the subject of the book. Some companies are using snp genotyping and only looking at variances, some are doing whole genome, some are doing something else. And he tries to lump these companies together, but he's never terribly clear about who is doing what, when. So what you end up with is a hodgepodge of information that doesn't connect. Discussing a company from 2008 who is doing whole genome work and then another company in 2007 doing snp genotyping and honestly I can't draw the comparison when mentioned 200 pages away from each other.
If he had just organized the data in a logical manner, told a story, even just a story per chapter, it would have been something. Instead it felt like a pollack painting. He just chucked stuff at the canvas until he had the equivalent of art... then broke it into chapters because that's what you're supposed to do.
It has one or two okay points, but 100 pages in I was just waiting for the end. Did we even reach a $1000 genome? I can't even answer that question. He mentioned a genome getting down to $990, but then he states that that's just the cost of reagents, and that prices may differ for whole sale or the individual once you include overhead costs. Plus, this $990 genome may just be a SNP genotype looking for certain diseases, not a whole genome. The company that reached $990 is not mentioned in the end, it was mentioned in the beginning, and he doesn't tie this company to the end of the story. In the end, that's what gives this story 2 stars. When you write a book called $1000 genome and can't even answer that question, it has problems.