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Biotech Medicine Science

Norway Brings DNA Sequencing To National Healthcare 91

ananyo writes "Norway is set to become the first country to incorporate genome sequencing into its national health-care system. The Scandinavian nation, which has a population of 4.8 million, will use 'next-generation' DNA sequencers to trawl for mutations in tumors that might reveal which cancer treatments would be most effective. In its three-year pilot phase, the Norwegian Cancer Genomics Consortium will sequence the tumor genomes of 1,000 patients in the hope of influencing their treatments. It will also look at another 3,000 previously obtained tumor biopsies to get a better idea of the mutations in different cancers, and how they influence a patient's response to a drug. In a second phase, the project will build the laboratory, clinical and computing infrastructure needed to bring such care to the 25,000 Norwegians who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Similar projects are under way in the United Kingdom and at research hospitals in the United States, France and elsewhere. But Norway's will be among the first to look for tumor mutations using next-generation DNA sequencing rather than conventional genetic testing."
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Norway Brings DNA Sequencing To National Healthcare

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  • Too early? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:19AM (#38912679)

    I'm not sure with current technology this will be very useful. Better than nothing? As I have said in the past, http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1408231&cid=29781469 [slashdot.org] -this is the way forward .. but I hope it's not at the expense of long term. I mean look how long it is taking for us to wean of incandescent lightbulbs and gasoline.

    We really need a way to do long reads, coupled with single cell sequencing technology. That's the proper way to attack cancer. Hmm, also we may need a way to find out chromatin structure on a single cell basis too. Get on it.

  • Re:Too early? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:07AM (#38912817) Homepage Journal

    (Short reads * massive coverage) + better sequence assembly algorithms = whole genomes, cheap. I agree that longer reads would be nice to have, but we're reaching the point where as long as read length is "long enough," we can do the rest computationally.

    Also, job security for bioinformaticists. ;)

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:24AM (#38912883) Homepage Journal

    So you could end up with a government that literally tells you when to pee, for health reasons.

    You could, but do you? I haven't seen any evidence that countries with socialized medicine, on the whole, put any more restrictions on people's health habits than those without.

  • Re:Too early? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @08:07AM (#38913473)

    I know the VA (United States Venterans Administration) is evaluating the storage costs for DNA sequencing; they've recently looked into pricing as they don't have to pay the patent fee's since the federal government funded much of the research. From what I hear, they want to DNA sequence all military personnel as it would lead to better treatment in the field. Currently, they think they'll do a little better then breaking even, but long term they are anticipating huge savings. If it saves them money and leaves to better treatment, it sounds like a win-win for us as it'll help lower the cost of the technology.

    As for the patent-fees, I've heard that's 90% of the cost of DNA sequencing; when I commented how sad that was, they commented just wait a decade for our health system to collapse and then people will be begging for a centralized medical system and we'll all be exempt from patent fees due to the government covering the bill.

VMS must die!