Intel bets millions on speedy DNA sequencing chips
Bio-silicon start-up gets $100m
Intel is among several investors pumping $100m into a biotech start-up that wants to make mapping an individual's genome as routine as taking an X-ray.
Pacific Biosciences of Menlo Park, California anticipates that by 2013 it will be able to sell a DNA sequencer that can tackle a person's entire hereditary information in as little as 15 minutes. The company's technology centers on the SMRT (Single-Molecule, Real-Time) chip, which is DNA sequencing hardware. Interestingly, companies making DNA sequencing machines have been following a Moore's Law type of trajectory where they're reducing both the time and cost associated with cranking through genomes by about half every 18 months.
The technology departs from the current industry-standard Sanger method of gene inspection — used for the Human Genome Project, which took approximately 13 years to complete. PacBio uses a faster machine that inspects longer blocks of DNA sequences. Long reads make it easier to piece together lengthy, repetitive sequences of complex genomes and generate better overlap to reconstruct them.
PacBio's approach is basically to break double-stranded DNA molecules into single fragment strands that are placed in thousands of 70 nanometer-wide holes on top of sequencing chips.
Normally, DNA replicates itself via enzymes called DNA polymerase. When DNA unzips itself, polymerase duplicates the complementary half, and presto, identical cousins. PacBio feeds in nucleotides with fluorescent markers to suss out what's happening in this process.
According to The Wall Street Journal, PacBio's fistfuls of venture money are being provided by Intel Capital (the investment wing of Intel), Deerfield Capital Management, T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley, FMR, Alliance Bernstein Holding, Maverick Capital, Redmile Group, Alloy Ventures, DAG Ventures, TEachers' Private Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Mohr Davidow Ventures.
The Journal reports PacBio hopes hospitals will routinely use the technology to identify how people will respond to drugs based on specific genetic markers.
There's also no better way to show your significant other you care than firming up the odds of her getting cancer. ®
DNA is only a fragment of the data
The pop media has convinced people that all you need is DNA, then you have the creature.
Well, there is the epigenetics (several layers), the mitochondrial DNA (and associated epigenetics), the celllular informatics and proteomics that are carried across the germ line (largely unexplored as people wander around in the DNA)...
Not to speak of phenotypical changes as that single cell expands into trillions of cells, including maternal modulations of the genetic expressions, maternal microchimerae effects which can extend for the lifespan of the "product", .... well, you get the picture.
Just when you thought you could clone Flicka, you discover that it is not so simple after all!
Super Bioweapon in the making?
DNA and gene based drugs are a wonderful fantastic idea, but they open the door to some of the worlds most terrible possibilities. Think about it,..... if they can create a drug that is based on your dna/genes, and therefore only effect you, they can make a disease to do that very same thing. They could create a virus that could be airborne and highly contagious but would only effect one person and his family.
That is one magic loogie
...is not dead (sadly)!
Just because it may be technically possible to sequence an individual's genome in the near future it does not mean we know their fate.
We (scientists) still understand very little about the (human) genome and when it comes down to understanding how all diseases/traits link to certain genes we know even less. We are a long way from GATTACA, but the government is trying hard to get there despite the science >-|
Forensic DNA matches only look for 'markers' that are found on DNA. The patterns of these markers are sufficiently diverse to be able to differentiate between two individuals with a probability you quote. This is a *theoretical* measure. In practise no-one really knows what the true probability is...
BTW it's great to see someone mention bioinformatics here. It is the future of science, don't you know ;)
Am I a bit thick or summat?
"There's also no better way to show your significant other you care than firming up the odds of her getting cancer."
As long as there are busses...
The insurance industry will be just fine.