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Biotech IBM Medicine Privacy

IBM Researchers Working Toward Cheap, Fast DNA Reader 90

Posted by timothy
from the reminds-me-of-creepy-ibm-ads dept.
nk497 writes "IBM scientists are working on ambitious research where nano-sized holes will be drilled into computer chips and DNA passed through to create a 'genetic code reader.' A DNA molecule would be passed through a hole just three nanometers wide, while an electrical sensor 'reads' the DNA. The challenge of the silicon-based 'DNA Transistor' would be to slow and control the motion of the DNA through the hole so the reader could decode what is inside it. IBM claimed that if the project was successful it could make personalised genome analysis as cheap as $100 to $1,000, and compared it to the first-ever sequencing done for the Human Genome Project, which cost $3 billion."
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IBM Researchers Working Toward Cheap, Fast DNA Reader

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  • Amazing! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by newcastlejon (1483695) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @11:59AM (#29658107)
    All that remains now, I guess, is a device that can write arbitrary stands of DNA.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @12:06PM (#29658207)

    If you can read DNA through a fabricated chip, possible next step is fabricating microcircuits from transistors scaffolded on DNA.

    Yours In Belarus,
    Kilgore Trout

  • Challenge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @12:11PM (#29658265)

    Well I would imagine that slowing and controlling the motion of the DNA wouldn't be all that difficult. DNA has a net negative charge due to the backbone. However, how the EM fields they'd use to manipulate it would interact with the circuitry of the reader I do not know. That might be the real challenge.

  • Re:Other uses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @12:28PM (#29658509) Journal

    Well, since you are being a complete nay-sayer to further your own agenda, allow me to respond with some other potential uses of this technology:

    Law enforcement will use it to help solve crime.

    The innocence project will use it to get wrongfully convicted people out of prison/off death row.

    Businesses and private individuals will be able to use it to enhance the security of their homes/offices/factories/etc.

    Adopted children will be able to use it to figure out who their biological parents are.

    The child support system will be able to use it to weed out those who aren't parents and confirm those who are.

    The point I'm trying to make is that technology isn't inherently good or evil. It's what we do with it that matters. I find it disturbing that you couldn't name a single positive use for this technology.

  • by maillemaker (924053) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:02PM (#29660127)

    You could argue that the entire purpose of mankind is to acquire, and then use to his benefit, information. This has been the ongoing work of mankind since the dawn of mankind. Our appetite for information is insatiable, as the ways to benefit from information seem endless.

    Consequently, privacy is doomed.

  • Re:Other uses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:41PM (#29660807)

    Have to take this DNA test as part of our drug screening. Predisposition towards alcoholism or any other disease or disorder that will send our health care costs through the roof? Well, you don't have the necessary "skills" for this job. Sorry, best of luck finding another job. (Yeah, good luck in proving that we violated the ADA or EEOC!)

    nothing but good (TM) can come of this!

    Incredibly short sighted. I sequence DNA all the time, it's a valuable tool for biomedical research. If sequencing my samples took a matter of hours instead of days, that would really speed thing up. My research is on neural stem cells. I may be an idiot, but I think my research could eventually lead to some findings that would be useful to many people. Shortening the amount of time it will take me to find stuff is, in my opinion, a good thing, and not just for me. The same is true for most biologists.

    So this could speed up a lot of biomedical research. It will also bring new research projects into the realm of feasibility, some of those could be extremely valuable too.

    Sarcastically saying nothing but good can come of this technology? That's more ridiculous applied here than it would be about a faster computer processor.

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