Portable DNA Sequencer Demonstrated at World Economic Forum

January 30th, 2012

Via: Medical Express:

It was the talk of Davos, grabbing the imagination of a forum otherwise shrouded in gloom: a miracle machine that cracks the code of life within hours and could revolutionise healthcare.

Patients will no longer have to wait weeks to know if they have cancer and their doctors will know immediately what kind of disease they have, allowing them to target therapies precisely and to avoid harmful delays or mistakes.

Health officials confronted by superbug outbreaks will be able to identify the bug’s strain and begin planning treatment within hours rather than days or weeks, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Soon, researchers in the developing world will take portable DNA sequencers into the field to identify new viruses and verify water quality.

And police investigators will be able to develop a suspect’s DNA profile as quickly as their fictional counterparts do in glossy television dramas, while commandos on the battlefield will identify the bodies of friend and foe.

The man behind the revolution is Jonathan Rothberg, master biotechnician and CEO of Ion Torrent, owned by US firm Life Technologies, which produces the Ion Proton — the world’s first desktop semiconductor-based gene sequencer.

Related: Homeland Security Will Soon Begin Analyzing DNA at Airports

Research Credit: pookie

One Response to “Portable DNA Sequencer Demonstrated at World Economic Forum”

  1. zeke Says:

    I am sure this will be used for many awful things. But I still retain hope that it may be used for some good, as the potential is immense on both sides.

    In any case, if this technology proliferates – and I cannot see how, now that the cat is out of the bag, that it will fail to do so, medicine will be a far different thing 20 years from now.

    This is quite literally a game-changer. We do not yet have any idea of the incredible number of new ideas and uses this will spawn. It really is comparable to the advent of the personal computer.

    When a task becomes cheap, quick, and easy, the tool which enables that task is used in ways that no one could have expected.

    To be sure, health insurance will end up driven by knowledge of your innate liabilities. OTOH, by putting the ability to sequence genomes into the hands of many, the aggregate knowledge of the human genetic code is going to take a rapid leap forward.

    Good, bad, it’s on its way. Short of technological collapse, this is here to stay. I can’t imagine a 1st-world hospital without one of these in 10 years. I can’t help but be a little excited, even as I am a bit afraid of the dangers.



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