back to article Intel bets millions on speedy DNA sequencing chips

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 …


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  1. Graham Marsden


    to GATTACA...

  2. Hud Dunlap

    Insurance companies will love it.

    They will just drop the people who are likely to get cancer and take money from those who aren't likely to get cancer.

    Not to mention birth defects, problem pregnancies and all of the other expensive stuff.

  3. Anonymous from Mars




    *PONK* OW


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No doubt will be part of the Brown CRB project too, nobody is innocent.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    uses fluorescentlabeled nucleotides...

    and so how is this different to the current way of sequencing? Current Method =Sangers method but in one setup by using differently fluorescent labeled terminator nucleotides

    So they are using labeled stuff too but what is the difference?

  6. The Prevaricator

    I've heard this one before...

    something to do with a camp man in a wheelchair...

    Yay for movies coming true. Can't wait for Godzilla coming true... or the Terminator.

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    DNA on a flash key

    A human genome fits into 1.5GB (uncompressed). If they succeed in sequencing a human in 15 minutes with mass producable kit, you could reasonably go to a pharmacy and walk out with your sequence on a flash key.

    At the moment, if you get diagnosed with something expensive, pretending the diagnosis came later so you can get cheap insurance is naughty. For illnesses with a strong genetic link, it wil be harder to lie convincingly.

    DNA testing will be profitable for embryos. Decide for yourself if you like to idea.

  8. Jon

    Sequencing isn't the problem

    It's actually understanding the data when it comes off the line.

    The Bioinformatics software to analyze the data isn't the worlds most efficient! It requires thousands of cpu hours to find a single SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism). With a single a full genome being available in 15 minutes it's going to require an enormous cpu farm just to keep up!

    Oh wait.... now I get it....

  9. Chris

    Industry Standard

    Sanger sequencing is on the way out as the current 'Next Generation Sequencing' systems (by Illumina, 454 Life Sciences and ABI) are far quicker with equivalent accuracy and at a fraction of the cost.

    The sequencing of the James Watson genome, recently publically release (, was performed using one of the NGS systems.

    The current problems we're having with these technologies is the amount data they produce: terabytes of raw data and tens of gigabytes of processed data for each run per machine. With runs taking 3-4 days each it mounts up quickly...

    It'll be interesting to see what improvements this new method will bring.

  10. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge

    Death to LIfe Insurance

    If you take the risk and doubt out of insurace then it's not insurance it's fixed. You would not bet on something if you knew the outcome would not be in your favour.

    I think if the insurance companies correctly adjust your premium according to acurate predictions of your risk then you may comclude that if they will insure you then don't bother and if they won't insure you then you need it. They will have to be very careful how they handle this imormation because without any risk why would someone bother with insurance.

    I suspect that having your DNA sequence on a memory stick won't be as valuable as people are hoping. Trying to determine what it all means will take years.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Information saves lives

    My girlfriend has just been diagnosed with secondary liver cancer. The primary cancer was due to a genetic defect that gave her an 80% risk of developing cancer. She was in remission and had been due to have surgery to eliminate the risk of further primary cancers.

    Any technology that can reduce the time and cost of genetic screening and therefore enable more people to have timely preventative treatment and to make decisions about their lives has got to be a good thing.

  12. ShaggyDoggy


    Indeed, the life insurance industry will cease to exist.

    I somehow don't think they'll want that.

  13. Stuart Halliday

    DNA reading is obsolete

    Already they've discovered that RNA is also required to understand how the body works.

    Also I gather from this News statement that by reading longer sequences, that they're not actually reading *all* the individual DNA codes? So its not going to be especially accurate is it?

    So DNA reading will end up just used for fingerprinting a person.

    One thing I've never understood from hearing about DNA evidence. Is that the DNA evidence found at the scene of a crime matches the person on trial to within 1 in 1 billion people for example.

    But there are 6 billion people on the planet. So couldn't one of these other 5 people be in the same Town? Reasonable doubt surely?

  14. Parax

    As long as there are busses...

    The insurance industry will be just fine.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Ah, that acronym...

    I happen to know that SMRT means "death" in Croatian and probably a bunch of other Slavic languages. The possibilities for hilarity seem endless.

  16. oxo
    Paris Hilton

    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."


  17. Chris

    Insurance... 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 >-|

    @Stuart Halliday

    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 ;)

  18. De

    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

  19. Mike Hocker

    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!

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