Affordable DNA Sequencing, Improved Imaging Technologies, Move the PM Ball Forward

Personalized Medicine Watch
By John Russell

October 7, 2008 | Slashing the cost of DNA sequencing is a prerequisite to making genomic medicine widely available and early this week, a new contender—Complete Genomics—emerged with a pledge to hit the $1000 genome price perhaps by this spring. My colleague and Bio-IT World’s editor-in-chief, Kevin Davies, was one the journalists to receive a comprehensive briefing and has charted the new company’s ambitious plans in an article posted online.

This is an important step toward making genomic medicine a mainstream option. Few know this area better than Davies, who is writing a book about the race to develop enabling technologies for genomic medicine and their broader impact. Davies quotes Clifford Reid, Complete Genomics’ chairman, president, and CE0, in his article:  

“Our mission is to be the global leader in complete human genome sequencing. We are setting out to completely change the economics of genome sequencing so that we can do diagnostic quality human genome sequencing at a medically affordable price. Essentially, [we’ll] transition this genome sequencing world from a scientific and academic endeavor into a pharmaceutical and medical endeavor.”

As important as cheap sequencing is, it’s hardly the only technology needed to push personalized medicine forward. Also this week, SNM (Society for Nuclear Medicine) released a “fact sheet” to coincide with Nuclear Medicine Week (October 5 to 11) and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). The short report, “MI Technology Is Now Changing the Course in 24 to 48 Percent of Breast Cancer Cases,” highlights developments in molecular imaging technologies that are improving the ways in which breast cancer is diagnosed and treated. 

"As a field, molecular imaging is evolving very rapidly," says SNM president Robert W. Atcher. "Each new discovery—whether through improved cancer diagnosis and treatment, increased understanding of the fundamental causes of Alzheimer's disease or strides in how we treat cardiovascular disease—brings personalized medicine one step closer to reality. Molecular imaging techniques and therapies allow us to understand what is happening at a cellular level. Physicians can actually see the precise location of disease, determine if other organs are being affected and then target treatment. It is about delivering the right treatment to the right patient at the right time."

One gets the sense that the march towards personalized medicine is headed toward an inflection point, and while all the things it can do won’t be immediately apparent, at least a portion of what it can do, will become suddenly available to many patients.

Related Links:

Davies’ article can be read here

The SNM report can be read here.  

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