What: Researchers at IBM have found a way to meld biology and computing to create a new chip that could become the basis for a fast, inexpensive, personal genetic analyzer.
Why: The “DNA transistor” could make it faster and cheaper to sequence individuals’ complete genomes. Having access to a person’s genetic code could help doctors create customized medicine and determine an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases.
How: The DNA sequencer involves drilling tiny nanometer-size holes through computer-like silicon chips, then passing DNA strands through them to read the information contained in their genetic code.
Quick fact: Such a device could reduce the cost of personalized genome analysis to under $1,000. The first complete sequencing of a human genome cost about $3 billion when it was finally completed in 2003. Stanford researcher Stephen Quake recently showed the Heliscope Single Molecule Sequencer that can sequence a human genome in about four weeks at a cost of $1 million.
Read the article on Wired here.
The official press release can be found here.