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WHAT IS WHOLE GENOME SEQUENCING?
Whole genome sequencing is a process where we can determine the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. To be able to do this you must have a sample of DNA from the organism and it is put into a sequencing machine. After several days the data comes out of the machine as short pieces of DNA sequence called reads. A computer takes these reads and maps them, creating a picture of the individual’s genome. Once the genome picture is assembled, another program looks for differences in the DNA, or variants, that may be causing the medical condition. By allowing the entire genome of a person to be sequenced, every gene can be turned into digital data for analysis.
Genome sequencing technology is continuing to advance as scientists are created more efficient and fast biotechnology to sequence genomes. As it’s cost continues to get cheaper, the rise of the public buying this technology is rising. According to James Lu, in 20 years most people will have the option of having their genomes sequenced. Other scientists have predicted that more consumer genomic data will make its way to practicing physicians. Over the years the price of getting a genome sequences have dropped. Back in 2003 the international human genome sequencing consortium kicked-off the genome analysis by sequencing a complete human genome. It took more than 13 years and cost approximately €2.3B. By 2008, costs had already dropped to less than €1M per genome and last year it was possible to get your genome sequenced for around €900 in a few days. Whole genome sequencing technology is also expanding around the world. A company from the UK called genomics England has made a goal to sequence up to 100,000 whole genomes from patients who carry rare diseases, their families and cancer patients from 11 genomic medicine centres. Several companies such as AstraZeneca, Roche and GSK have signed up to be a part of the gene consortium that gives them access to 5,000 sequenced genomes. France is also part of this advancement of biotechnology through whole genome sequencing. In 2016 they announced the “France medicine genomique 2025” program. This program is aiming to open 12 sequencing centres and ensure 235,000 whole genomes sequences a year.
HOW IS THIS FORM OF BIOTECHNOLOGY USED?
Genome sequencing has many different machines that you can use to sequence. One common was the NovaSeq 6000. The NovaSeq is a machine that provides us with speed and flexibility we need to complete projects more than any other machine. The NovaSeq is supposed to be an easy machine to use and has the data and tools it needs to accumulate information.The MinION is also a machine that weighs under 100 grams but can generate up to 30 GB of DNA sequences, or 7-12 million reads. Because of how simple, and this device is, it has been used in the arctic, and even on the International Space station. WGS provides 3,000 times more information due to the fact that it provides data on all six billion base pairs of the human genome.
How is this form of biotechnology changing the world as we continue to advance towards the future?
With all the biotechnology being formed and brought into the world to advance whole genome sequencing it is very sure that it will not take long until we have very advanced and accurate technology for analyzing genomes and finding cures to such diseases. Whole genome sequencing offers advantages in cancer research, human genetics, environmental research, microbiology, animal research and more. With the biotechnology that already exists WGS (whole genome sequencing) research is finding ways to guide treatments for common cancers and also being used to determine which medications are safe on a person by analyzing their genomes. With WGS scientists will have a better understanding of cancer cells and what genes are mis regulated. This allows scientists to discover what treatment/chemotherapy is best that way patients have less exposure to toxic treatments. The human genome project allows researchers to understand the blueprint of a person. Many people have donated their genomes to further gather information for research. As they learn more about functions of genes and proteins this will have a major impact in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, life sciences and even our lives and how to keep healthy and safe.
Whole Genome Sequencing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/whole-genome-sequencing.