Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 3:24 pm
The news that the cost of personal genome sequencing will soon drop as low as $1,000 has generated a quite a bit of interest and concern — from medical researchers, biotech companies, bioethicists and the average consumer alike.
NPR's Rob Stein explored many of the implications of this technology in his four-part series "The $1,000 Genome." They're complicated, to say the least.
Beau Gunderson's fascinated by what he might learn from his DNA.
"I'm curious about what makes me tick, essentially," says Gunderson, 29, who writes code for a Silicon Valley startup.
So Gunderson has signed up for every genetic test he's been able to afford. And he can't wait for the price of getting his entire genetic code — his genome — to drop to about $1,000, as many are predicting is imminent.
"Yeah, if the price does drop — to a thousand bucks for example — I might pay that. That's a good personal price point for me," Gunderson said.
Sara Terry's first clue that something was wrong with her son, Christian, came just three weeks after he was born.
"We went to check on him, just like any parents go and check on their kids just to make sure they're breathing," says Terry, 34, of Spring, Texas. "And we found him in his crib, and he wasn't breathing. He was blue."
She and her husband were horrified. They rushed Christian to the hospital and learned he had several medical problems.
When scientists were looking for the first person to test a new, superfast way of deciphering someone's entire genetic blueprint, they turned to James Watson – the guy who shared a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA.
"They had to sequence someone, so they got me," he says.