As soon as scientists began decoding the human genome, speculation started about an impending age of personalized genetic medicine. Health care Cassandras spun enticing yarns about a future where a patient's disease predispositions would be quickly and cheaply identified. And years after Craig Venter decoded the first human genome (his), the best we've got is a mail order service that guesses at your risk for Alzheimer's.
Now, a new gene sequencing device designed by Stanford engineer Stephen Quake may finally usher in the long predicted practice of personalized genetic medicine. By using a new refrigerator-sized machine to decode the DNA, Quake has cut both the cost and time of the process by at least a fifth.