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Scientists win grants to develop $1,000 genome sequencing technology

The current cost to determine the sequence of nucleotide bases in the 6-billion-base-pair human genome is roughly $10 million, but researchers at UC San Diego and eight other universities and biotech companies hope to use a federal grant to lower the cost to only $1,000 per human genome sequenced. Determining the genome sequence of individuals is considered crucial to understanding and routinely treating hundreds of inherited diseases, predispositions to other diseases, and cancers.

In order to spur the development of fundamentally new and innovative technologies necessary to reduce the cost of sequencing a genome 10,000-fold, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has awarded $13 million in new grants to nine universities and corporate groups in the U.S., including UCSD. The institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is using the grant program as an incentive to expand the routine use of genomics in medical research and health care.

Xiaohua Huang, a professor of bioengineering in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, leads the effort at UCSD to develop a promising technology that shrinks what is currently being done in large genome-sequencing laboratories down to a glass slide the size of a business card. Huang's team will combine micro- and nano-fabrication technologies with innovative chemistry technologies to simultaneously sequence more than 1 billion individual pieces of DNA attached to the surface of single slides.

The latest genome-sequencing grant was announced simultaneously with the announcement of the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, a $10 million cash prize to go to the first team that creates the technology to successfully map 100 human genomes in 10 days. The X PRIZE Foundation is a non-profit institute dedicated to fostering radical breakthroughs in space and technology for the benefit of humanity.

"The $10 million prize may be a nice incentive to researchers, but our group at
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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