Lupski added that he's impressed that the genetic research didn't take long. "Each time [new research] comes out, it's faster and cheaper," he said.
It won't be long before it costs just $10,000 or $20,000 to sequence a person's genetic makeup, he predicted, "and then it's only a matter of time until we get to the $1,000 genome."
Earlier this year, researchers announced plans to map the genomes of 1,000 people from around the world. The goal is to use more sophisticated technology to understand genetic blueprints on an even deeper level.
But scientists still need to figure out how the data they're gathering from the human genome translates into medical advances, said Charles Lee, director of cytogenetics at the Harvard Cancer Center.
"We are at a stage where technology is outpacing our biological understanding," he said. "We have massive amounts of genetic information being generated, but a limited understanding of what this data means to the individual. There is still a long way to go before we can accurately interpret much of the data that we are generating."
Learn more about human genetics from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
SOURCES: James R. Lupski, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Charles Lee, Ph.D., director, cytogenetics, Harvard Cancer Center, and associate professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston. Nov. 6, 2008, Nature
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