Last year an analysis of every gene in your body would have taken more than six months and cost roughly $25 million. The new desktop Genome Sequencer 20 System from 454 Life
Sciences can do it in less than a month for about $300,000. The breakthrough is a fiber-optic chip about the size of a business card that is embedded with 1.6 million wells, each a quarter the size of a human hair. The chip holds hundreds of thousands of DNA fragments. Conventional sequencers, in comparison, can accommodate just 384 DNA fragments and take more than 100 times as long as the Genome Sequencer 20 System to decode samples. The ultimate goal is a version of the machine so fast and cheap that it enables doctors to routinely order patient DNA maps and treat genetic
deficiencies long before they cause disease.