454 Life Sciences makes big advance in sequencing technology

The New York Times reports on some amazing advances by 454 Life Sciences in sequencing the human genome. Scientists say they cut the time it takes to sequence a genome to four hours, making it conceivable that sequencing DNA could become cheap enough for everyone. That kind of advance would bring the era of personalized medicine, in which pharmaceuticals are designed for the individual, much closer to reality. The sequencing machine developed by Bradford, Connecticut-based 454 Life Sciences relies on the chemistry of fireflies, which flashes every time a unit of DNA is analyzed. Those bits of data are assembled on a card -- with 1 million wells -- that can be read by a computer that sequences the gene.

"It is clear that sequencing technology needs to continue to become smaller, faster and less expensive in order to fulfill the promise of personalized medicine," said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "We are excited that our support of sequencing technology development is yielding results and we look forward to the applications of such innovative technologies in biomedical research and, ultimately, the clinic."

- read this story from The New York Times for more

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