Millionaire Pays Firm to Map His Genetic Code

Personal genome readouts now on shopping list for super-rich
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2008 4:01 AM CST
US scientist and DNA discoverer James Watson poses for photographers behind a model of the 'DNA Double Helix in this 2004 file photo. Watson said it'd be a toss-up for him between buying a Bentley or...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Switzerland-based millionaire is paying to have his personal genetic code mapped out, the New York Times reports. He is only the second person to ever have done so, but genetics companies say interest is high despite the $350,000 price tag for decoding all 6 billion units in an individual's genome. "I’d rather spend my money on my genome than on a Bentley or an airplane," said the retired biotech entrepreneur.

Some biologists worry that allowing genetic code to become a high-end luxury item will turn public opinion against genetic research. Others say it's a stepping stone on the way to accessible gene maps for all, and that more decoding certainly needs to be done. Scientists say they will have to unlock thousands of genome sequences before they can start making sense of how minor genetic variations affect people.