Life Technologies Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif. announced yesterday that it had developed a machine that can decode the DNA of an individual in under 24 hours for the very affordable price of $1000. DNA sequencers have been around for a few years, but the costs and time involved to decode and analyze the data in one person’s DNA have kept the technology from widespread use. However, with these new machines, the ability to check a patient’s DNA for susceptibility to disease and to mold treatment has become much easier for every doctor.
What this means is that the medical revolution we have seen in science fiction such as Robert Heinlein‘s Future History is becoming closer and much more possible. It will allow us to increase our lifespans, treat disease and sickness better, and eliminate deficiencies in DNA before our children are born.
However, this also could bring up some interesting other things. What happens when all the bad parts of some people’s DNA are eliminated and the diversity of the human race is cut down? And by the same token, what happens when future parents are given their unborn child’s DNA and find out that it has Down syndrome? What do you think some people would do about that?
This, like every other major scientific advancement, can make things better but also cause more problems and give people more choices to make bad decisions. It is only if we can control this and use it for the good will it benefit us in the long run.
- Company announces low-cost DNA decoding machine (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- A DNA Tower of Babel (technologyreview.in)
- Will knowing your DNA motivate you to lose weight? (vitals.msnbc.msn.com)
- Sequencing leaders want industry standards to govern decoded DNA (fiercebiotechresearch.com)