Genetic mapping of babies by 2019 will transform preventive medicine
2009 02 10

By Mark Henderson | timesonline.co.uk


Every baby born a decade from now will have its genetic code mapped at birth, the head of the world's leading genome sequencing company has predicted.

A complete DNA read-out for every newborn will be technically feasible and affordable in less than five years, promising a revolution in healthcare, says Jay Flatley, the chief executive of Illumina.

Only social and legal issues are likely to delay the era of “genome sequences”, or genetic profiles, for all. By 2019 it will have become routine to map infants' genes when they are born, Dr Flatley told The Times.

This will open a new approach to medicine, by which conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can be predicted and prevented and drugs prescribed more safely and effectively.

The development, however, will raise difficult questions about privacy and access to individuals' genetic records. Many people may be reluctant to have their genome read, for fear that the results could be used against them by an employer or insurance company.

The prospect of genome screening for all has emerged because of the plummeting cost of the relevant technology.

The Human Genome Project, which published its first rough sequence of mankind's genetic code in 2001, cost an estimated $4billion (£2.7billion). By the time the scientists James Watson and Craig Venter had their genomes mapped two years ago, the cost had fallen to about $1m (£700,000).

Genotyping services, which examine about 2million of the genome's 6billion DNA letters for clues to disease, are already available to consumers for about $1,000 (£700). Those with deeper pockets can have their whole genome mapped for about $100,000 (£70,000).

Illumina is preparing to launch a much cheaper whole-genome service within two years. It has already begun seeking consent from its first customers, who are likely to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 (£7,000-£14,000).

Last month, Illumina announced a deal with Oxford Nanopore, a British company that is developing a new approach to sequencing that could bring costs down further.

In an interview with The Times, Dr Flatley said a genome sequence should be available for less than $1,000 (£700) in three to four years.

“The limitations are sociological; when and where people think it can be applied, the concerns people have about misinformation and the background ethics questions.

“I think those are actually going to be the limits that push it out to a ten-year timeframe,” he added.

A baby's genome can be discovered at birth by a heel-prick blood test, similar to the one that is already used to screen for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

By examining which genetic variants a person has inherited, it is possible to identify raised risks of developing an array of conditions, including cardiovascular disease and many cancers. Those at high risk can then be screened more regularly, or given drugs or dietary advice to lower their chances of becoming ill.

As DNA affects the way certain drugs are metabolised, personal genomes could also be used to ensure that patients get the medicine that is most likely to work for them and least likely to have side-effects.

Personal genome sequencing, however, will raise legitimate concerns about privacy,

“Bad things can be done with the genome. It could predict something about someone — and you could potentially hand information to their employer or their insurance company,” said Dr Flatley. “Legislation has to be passed.”

Complete genetic privacy, however, was unlikely to be possible, he added.

“People have to recognise that this horse is out of the barn, and that your genome probably can't be protected, because everywhere you go you leave your genome behind.”

As the benefits become clearer, however, he believes that most people will want their genomes read and interpreted. The apparent benefits would soon eclipse the hazards.

Source: Genetic mapping of babies by 2019 will transform preventive medicine

More at the mtsarforum



Related Articles
The last barrier to be overcome in genetic testing is public acceptability
Illumina (company)
illumina.com
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA)
Scientist Calls For World DNA Database
Red Ice Creations Radio - Michael Tsarion - The Post Human World
'Darth Venter' (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize


Latest News from our Front Page

NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us. At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account. Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy. The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade. Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday. The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria. A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
More News »