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Medicine Biotech Science

Personal DNA Sequencing Machine One Step Closer 65

Posted by timothy
from the who-the-hell-are-you? dept.
oxide7 writes "A new, low cost semiconductor-based gene sequencing machine has been developed and may unlock the door to advanced medicines and life itself. A team led by Jonathan Rothberg of Ion Torrent in Guilford, Conn is working on a system which uses semiconductors to decode DNA, dramatically reducing costs and taking them closer to being able to reach the goal of a $1000 human genome test. The current optical based system costs around $49000 and is already on the market and being used in over 40 countries."
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Personal DNA Sequencing Machine One Step Closer

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Saturday July 23, 2011 @08:02PM (#36859782) Journal
    From the short video on their site [jivesoftware.com] (youtube alternate [youtube.com]), it appears that this technology relies on a DNA template across thousands or millions of wells on a chip that emits hydrogen ions every time a base is incorporated into a DNA strand by a polymerase. I'm not a biologist but it looks like a pretty neat idea and I certainly hope it works as well as they say it does. I guess even if your sensor isn't that great at classifying between A, G, C or T then you can just build more wells on the chip and look at the statistics. I'm not sure how they ensure that one process is going on in each cell but I'm hoping this yields some cheap and fast accuracy. This would be a huge boon for research -- hell you could start up some hobby work very quickly and (relatively) cheaply since it's such a straight forward process.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday July 23, 2011 @09:55PM (#36860232) Journal
    You can already do most paternity and forensics stuff, to a quite usable degree of confidence, with much smaller snippets. Trying to do so on the very cheap might well get you results from a lab that can't be bothered with minor stuff like negative controls or not fucking up on a regular basis(luckily, this never, ever, ever happens at crime labs); but you can get it today, cheap. Here's an over-the-counter option for $150 [cvs.com](no particular endorsement implied, of course, just an example of what you can find in totally mainstream shops with 30 seconds of searching...)

    Whole-organism sequencing will likely remain a research tool for quite some time. The snippet-based stuff is already as or more accurate than the people doing it, and whole-organism for medical purposes will be largely snake oil(although there will certainly be people selling it) until we actually have the knowledge necessary to make meaningful inferences from those sequences.
  • Re:23andMe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Scubaraf (1146565) on Saturday July 23, 2011 @11:02PM (#36860420)
    There is an open source DNA sequencing project out there: http://www.polonator.org/ [polonator.org]

    But the fact is that it is still expensive as a hobby.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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