Going Forward with Genomics


genomics2After the sequencing of the human genome a decade ago, hopes of massive discoveries of new drugs to treat all types of diseases fell short. Now, a partnership between an up-and-coming biotechnology company, Regeneron, and the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is generating new hope and a great deal of excitement, with their plans to push genomics forward with an ambitious effort to get the results that failed to be attained from earlier efforts.

The effort is being cited in various science news articles, including those in the NY Times, esciencenews, fresh-news, and others. The team will start by taking 100,000 volunteers from The Geisinger Health System, which treats three million Pennsylvania residents, and sequencing their DNA to look at genetic variants that are linked to various diseases. Their hope is that this will eventually lead to the development of new drugs. Geisinger also hopes to benefit from the association by improving patient care.

This new venture is exciting to those with biotechnology jobs, as well as the investors who are looking for the opportunities to invest in effective drugs that may result. This collaboration is thought to be the largest sequencing undertaking performed in the US to date. It is also a step towards taking genomics into the area of healthcare where it has the potential to do a lot of good. Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, chief scientific officer of Regeneron, credits the plummeting costs of DNA sequencing, combined with Regeneron’s scientific capabilities, with creating a more likely scenario for success.

Regeneron will begin by sequencing only the exome, the 1 to 2 percent of the DNA with recipes for proteins. This will be significantly more affordable, than sequencing entire genomes, and will provide the information needed for the project. In addition, the science article explains that other similar projects are being initiated, particularly in the public sector, including the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which has plans to collect DNA from a million veterans.

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