However, the price tag for genomic scans is falling. Wilson noted that a year and a half ago, the cost was closer to $500,000 or $700,000. "Ask me next year, and it's going to be $10,000," he added.
A bigger challenge is having the skilled labor -- oncology experts, cancer biology experts, geneticists, the patients' own physician -- to do this. But Wilson is optimistic about that, too.
The case studies are also significant for "the speed at which they were able to turn around the information, both on the germ-line mutations [passed down between generations] and the tumor-tissue mutations," noted Dr. Steven K. Libutti, director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care in New York City. "We've known how to sequence for decades. The major barriers were cost and speed. They couldn't really sequence the entire genome in a reasonable amount of time and expense to make it practical. Now they've showed that advances have been made which can be applied to clinical problems."
For more on the latest genetics research and discoveries, head to the Human Genome Project.
SOURCES: Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of genetics, and director, The Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis; Steven K. Libutti, M.D., vice chair of surgery, and director, Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, New York City; April 20, 2011, Journal of the American Medical Association
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