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The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized Medicine Hardcover – September 7, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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!

See: youtube.com/watch?v=XXe74r7eYQw&feature=player_embedd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416569596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416569596
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Gross on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Back in 2000, when the draft sequence of "the" human genome was announced, hopes were high that a genetic understanding of common diseases would soon follow. This anticipated revolution in genomic medicine hasn't happened yet. However, a very different kind of revolution has happened, namely the development of fundamentally new and much more efficient methods to sequence huge amounts of DNA. As a consequence, the cost of sequencing a human genome has fallen faster than that of computer hardware. In order-of-magnitude terms, the first human genome (2000) cost around $ 1 billion, James Watson's (2007) $ 1 million, and this year many individual human genomes will be sequenced for not much more than $1000 per head.

This very real genome revolution has been underreported in the general media. Worse, it hasn't yet influenced the thinking of many medical professionals, even though it is bound to change the ways in which they will be able to prevent and treat disease. Kevin Davies, who has followed these developments closely as the editor of the magazine BioIT World and has interviewed many of the main protagonists over the years, now aims to popularise the new genome revolution in this very readable book.

Along with the progress in sequencing technology and personal genomes, Davies also covers the work of direct-to-consumer companies such as 23 and me, and also reports his own experience gained with these services. It emerges, however, that these companies are already at risk of becoming obsolete if they keep looking for simple answers from single base mutations (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) although the large-scale view of the complexity of entire genomes is becoming more and more important.

This is a well-informed and very accessible account of the fast-moving developments that will change medical and pharmaceutical world very soon. Naturally, it will become dated very soon, so read it now.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title of this review would be an alternative suggestion for the book title.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a biology illiterate excited by the prospects of genetic research and future genetic engineering. I was hoping that Davies' book would educate me in the basics, especially since his day job involves editing a periodical on the topic and he has a PhD in the subject. Unfortunately, Davies' book didn't do it. "The $1,000 Genome" focuses more on the key companies and leaders in the field, than explaining what's happening to neophytes. (Articles such as "The $100 Genome" in the 4/17/2008 "Technology Review" are more helpful.) As a result, the material jumps from one approach to another, and lacks a simple, structured approach. I also didn't appreciate Davies' wild numbers in some instances - eg. the U.S. spending $5 trillion on 4 million with Alzheimers.

Davies should also have devoted much more space to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute), which with its 126 new top-of-the-range sequencing machines added to an existing 31 will have supposedly more DNA-sequencing capacity than the entire U.S. Also important is what it is likely to accomplish, at least in the area of human intelligence, an area that it is focusing on. (2,000 Chinese children will have their genes sampled, and the results correlated with their test scores at school - the largest examination to date of the idea that differences between individuals' IQ scores are partly due to DNA differences.)

Nonetheless, it is impossible not to be impressed by the speed of improvement in the field - from taking 13 years and $2.7 billion to decade the first human genome , to 14 days and $1,500 by 2009. That's improvement by a factor of 10/year, far faster than even Moore's Law (doubling the number of transistors on a chip every 12-18 months).
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Kind of bummed out because I spent a lot of money on test for all my family, only for the FDA to come in, analyze the data that they had from breast cancer, with the data from 23andme.

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.
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