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Medicine's Future Could Lie in Each Patient's Genome
Date:3/11/2010

In two studies, scientists quickly scanned individuals' DNA to get at causes of disease

THURSDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Two separate scientific teams announced this week that they had successfully sequenced individual genomes to pinpoint precise genetic causes of illness -- breakthroughs that open the door to a future of individualized, genomics-based medicine.

"This is another milestone in the inevitable march towards personalized genetic health," said Dr. Robert Marion, chief of genetics and development medicine and director of the Center for Congenital Disorders at Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "Medicine is going to change from waiting for symptoms to develop to knowing what this person is at risk for and being able to stop that from happening. Eventually, we're talking about prevention."

One day in the future, Marion predicted, doctors will be able to look at all 20,000 or 25,000 genes in a newborn baby and be able to say whether the child has specific genetic disorders, or a twofold increased risk of developing colon cancer or a higher chance of developing childhood asthma.

And the cost to perform such feats has come way down, with experts at one company predicting that genomes could one day be sequenced for as low as $5,000. Right now, the cost hovers closer to $50,000.

"When it gets to the point where it would cost less to sequence the genome using these techniques than it does to send off a sample to test for a few genes, then you can start moving medicine from just seeing people who are sick to trying to prevent people from getting sick," said Dr. Jeffery Vance, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "You can see where things are going. This is showing that it's practical, it can be done and that medicine will start slowly to move toward using this techniq
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