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Applications of DNA Sequencing

written by: GiangNguyen • edited by: Anurag Ghosh • updated: 2/1/2011

This article reviews the applications of DNA sequencing in medical research and disease treatment.

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    Benefits of DNA Sequencing

    DNA sequencing is most frequently used to determine genome sequence. An example of this type of application is the human genome project. Five years after the completion of the human genome project, we are seeing its impacts on biomedical research. Several genes have been identied to associate with genetic conditions, including familial breast cancer and colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's disease, myotonic dystrophy, neurofibromatosis and fragile X syndrome. Ultimately, it will become a part of a patient's medical record, helping physicians to determine the patient's risk of certain diseases and the optimal treatments.

    Many emerging science and technological fields rely heavily on this technology. For instance, nutrigenetics is the study of how our genetic makeup affects our responses to diet. Nutrigenetics plays a central role in explaining the connection between red meat and colorectal cancer. It was shown that not everyone but only those with specific genotypes are at high risk for colon cancer when consuming large quantities of red meat.

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    DNA Sequencing Market

    The market of DNA sequencing technologies and DNA-based products is projected to reach $45 billion by 2009 and will continue to grow in the next decade.

    However, it is no longer expensive. The cost of Human Genome Project was more than $3 billion. In 2008, Illumina and Applied Biosciences announced that they can sequence a complete a human genome for $100,000. With less than $1000, you can have your DNA analyzed at companies like 23andMe, and DeCode Genetics. These companies also offer health and diet advices based on the results of DNA analysis.

    The future of DNA sequencing is single-molecule sequencing. Rather reading the signal of fluorescently labeled bases from thousands molecules, single-molecule sequencing technique can read the signal from a single molecule. The technique, developed by Helicos Biosciences based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will further speed up the process of this technology.



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