Ubiquitous DNA sequencing has the potential to upend nearly everything we know about personalized medicine, but only if it's not cost-prohibitive. Basic molecular biological techniques certainly have applications in clinical or diagnostic environments. Sequencing could really go beyond that and become relevant to everyday folks. It could just be a matter of having a streamlined, automated system, with samples sent elsewhere. A recent start-up called uBiome offers to characterize the microbiome of just about anything you'd like for less than $100. They aren't specific about how they got their costs so low, but I'm assuming they're just doing the usual 16S rRNA amplification and some quick next-gen sequencing. That's one way to create demand for incredibly cheap sequencing technologies.
Let's wax futurist about the potential of super-cheap, publicly-available nucleotide sequencing:
- Breakfast cereal manufacturers can offer free microbiome sequencing in every box of Cap'n Bran Flakes to show how their product might contribute to a healthy gut.
- Vending machines can offer genome screening on demand to screen for potential genetic maladies (but do people ever use those drugstore blood pressure screening machines? Are they secretly some kind of Scientologist apparatus?)
- Speaking of drugstores, pharmacies could do quick screens for genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions before they actually dispense said drugs.
- Labs could spend money on more practical things, like this electronic ice bucket. Oh yeah.