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10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change Your World

(Page 11 of 11)

Personal Genomics

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.