10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change Your World
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Three billion. That's the approximate number of DNA "letters" in each person's genome. The Human Genome Project managed a complete, letter-by-letter sequence of a model human-a boon for research. But examining the specific genetic material of each patient in a doctor's office by wading through those three billion letters just isn't practical. So to achieve the dream of personalized medicine-a future in which a simple blood test will determine the best course of treatment based on a patient's genes-many scientists are taking a shortcut: focusing on only the differences between people's genomes.
David Cox, chief scientific officer of Perlegen Sciences in Mountain View, CA, is turning that strategy into a practical tool that will enable doctors and drug researchers to quickly determine whether a patient's genetic makeup results in greater vulnerability to a particular disease, or makes him or her a suitable candidate for a specific drug. Such tests could eventually revolutionize the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer's, asthma-almost any disease imaginable. And Cox, working with some of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, has gotten an aggressive head start in making it happen.