Sequencer Can Map Genome in 4 Minutes

Warp-speed, dirt-cheap system has potential to transform health care
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2008 3:54 PM CST
"It will change health care forever if it works," said Hugh Martin, Pacific Biosciences chief executive officer.   (
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(Newser) – Blinding-fast new machines will be able to sequence a human genome in 4 minutes for just $1,000, potentially revolutionizing medical research. "It will change health care forever if it works," the CEO of the manufacturer tells Reuters. By comparison, the federally funded Human Genome Project, which wrapped up in 2000, took 5 years and cost $300 million.

Doctors will be able to quickly and easily compare numerous genomes, shedding light on how genes contribute to and cause disease. "You can sequence 1,000 people who exhibit addictive behavior and 1,000 who don't and see if there any differences between them," says Hugh Martin of Pacific Biosciences, one of several companies working on systems to make completing a gene map faster and cheaper.