The inventor of a new machine that decodes DNA with semiconductors has used it to sequence the genome of Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, a leading chip maker.
The inventor, Jonathan Rothberg of Ion Torrent Systems in Guilford, Conn., is one of several pursuing the goal of a $1,000 human genome, which he said he could reach by 2013 because his machine is rapidly being improved, reports New York Times.
Genome sequencing will enable treatments to be customized for each individual, called "personalized medicine," and could create a huge market for companies such as Life Tech. But the cost of genome sequencing, now about $30,000, must fall much farther to make that possible.
The genome machine analyzes DNA on $100 disposable microchips. Since the analysis takes place on the chip itself, new generations of chips will run on existing Pesonal Genome Machines. Life Tech says this method leverages the semiconductor industry's famed ability to produce ever more powerful chips, informs North County Times.
Most genome sequencers rely on expensive fluorescent dyes. Moving genome sequencing into semiconductor technology promises to speed genomics, the researchers conclude, saying, "our work suggests that readily available CMOS nodes should enable the production of one-billion sensor ion chips and low-cost routine human genome sequencing."
Geneticist Daniel MacArthur of Wired's Genetic Future blog, however, is critical of the report, saying, "Ion Torrent is not yet a remotely competitive technology for affordable whole human genome sequencing." He criticized the study for statistics that he says obscure the reality of a relatively low-quality genome produced at a high cost, according to USA Today.