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NHGRI SEEKS NEXT GENERATION OF SEQUENCING

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The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced that it has awarded more than $38 million in grants to spur the development of innovative technologies designed to dramatically reduce the cost of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, a move aimed at broadening the applications of genomic information in medical research and health care.

NHGRI's near-term goal is to lower the cost of sequencing a mammalian-sized genome to $100,000, which would enable researchers to sequence the genomes of hundreds or even thousands of people as part of studies to identify genes that contribute to cancer, diabetes, and other common diseases. Ultimately, NHGRI's vision is to cut the cost of whole-genome sequencing to $1,000 or less, which would enable the sequencing of individual genomes as part of medical care. The ability to sequence each person's genome cost-effectively could give rise to more individualized strategies for diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease.

DNA sequencing costs have fallen more than 100-fold over the past decade, fueled in large part by tools, technologies, and process improvements developed as part of the successful effort to sequence the human genome. However, it still costs at least $10 million to sequence the 3 billion base pairs that comprise the genomes of humans and other mammals.

In the first set of grants, 11 teams will work to develop near-term technologies that, within 5 years, are expected to provide the power to sequence a mammalian-sized genome for about $100,000. In the second set, seven groups will take on the longer-term challenge of developing revolutionary technologies to realize the vision of sequencing a human genome for $1,000 or less. The approaches pursued by both sets of grants have many complementary elements that integrate biochemistry, chemistry, and physics with engineering to enhance the whole effort to …

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