Who would be the Google of genome?
BGI, the most prolific DNA sequencer today, certainly has the ambition. It hopes to become the bio-Google, organizing and presenting the worlds biological information.
From sequencing human genome for IQ to sequencing genome of 90 varieties of chickpeas, BGI is doing it all.
More on BGI’s human IQ sequencing project and its potential implications in Yao Ming is China’s Kwisatz Haderach.
Technology Review’s peek at BGI
Zhang Yong, 33, a BGI senior researcher, predicts that within the next decade the cost of sequencing a human genome will fall to just $200 or $300 and BGI will become a force in assembling a global “bio-Google”—it will help “organize all the world’s biological information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Will sequence for money
Some outsiders, however, question whether BGI is anything more than biology’s version of Foxconn, the giant assembler of iPads and other gadgets designed elsewhere, whose largest factory, employing some 240,000 workers, is also in Shenzhen. While BGI has done important science—a recent paper on sequencing the bacteria in the human gut made the pages of Nature—it’s seen more as a mass producer of data than as an instigator of original research that can explain what the results mean.
The tremendous uses of genome sequencing include made for you medicines and at hospitals such as Philadephia hospital -
As the technology enters clinical use, the number of genomes sequenced in their entirety could catapult into the millions per year. That is what both the Philadelphia hospital and BGI are preparing for. “They have the expertise, instruments, and economies of scale,” says Robert Doms, pathologist-in-chief of the children’s hospital. He says it will pay BGI a fee for each genome it sequences, and will offer the service to parents of young patients with undiagnosed diseases.
BGI has the right kind of momentum in genome sequencing. Will it lead to a huge business in a few years?
Tags: bgi-shenzhen, most prolific dna sequencer, will sequence for money, bgi sequencing business, genome sequencing as a service, genome sequencing services