A World with Fast DNA Sequencing

The sequencing of the first human genome in April of 2003 encouraged discussion of a revolution in genomic science. By unlocking the language of our genetic code, we should be able to better understand how biological processes function, rapidly identify biological organisms, analyze the interactions between nature and nurture, and more. The implications truly seem infinite. At the moment, the cheapest (and quickest) way an average person can have his or her genome analyzed is by acquiring a DNA kit and shipping the amassed material to a laboratory. Due to new modernizations, however, the procedure is about to be a great deal more productive. Ultra-quick DNA testing will significantly upgrade the DNA kit, offering cheap and exhaustive profiling of our genome in addition to unprecedented power and responsibility.

At present, genome analysis is available to the average person in a few forms such as paternity testing and ancestry testing. The most prevalent analysis carried out, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), compares particular regions of an individual’s genetic profile (called loci) to the same regions in a separate genome, and it involves a wait time of about 2 weeks. Results arrive in the form of a negative or affirmative answer or as a set of statistical likelihoods for ancestry tests. Due to the expense of these tests as well as their narrow scope, only a small subset of the populace has ever ordered a DNA test kit.

These limitations are disappearing with the entrance of cheaper and faster DNA kits. Following the Human Genome Project’s accomplishment in sequencing its initial uncondensed code, expenses have been swiftly falling. The price of de-coding a single base pair is now millions of times more inexpensive than a few decades ago, and the total DNA that is being sequenced around the world is tripling every year. As a result, companies are starting to produce kits that have built-in analysis abilities – this removes laboratory related problems and allows multiple uses for the same price. Additionally, sequencing data can be obtained in 60 to 90 minutes with the potential of even quicker results in the future.

So what can the average person do with a DNA kit of his own? Conceive a situation in which a close friend falls ill, and you have the means to genetically determine the invading bacteria or virus instantly. Furthermore, envision a genetic database on the Internet where its members learn whether they are appropriate fits for certain types of treatments. Further possibilities will certainly become known as we find out more about the connections between our genetics and our behavior and health. Merely having a centralized database of human genomic sequences will greatly increase our knowledge of ourselves.

As with all innovative innovations, caution is necessary. The ubiquity of DNA knowledge brings the opportunity of exploitation of personal data by governments, insurance companies, or malevolent independent hackers. This will induce…

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