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Portable DNA Sequencer Demonstrated at World Economic Forum

Medical Express [1]
January 30, 2012

It was the talk of Davos, grabbing the imagination of a forum otherwise shrouded in gloom: a miracle machine that cracks the code of life within hours and could revolutionise healthcare.

Patients will no longer have to wait weeks to know if they have cancer and their doctors will know immediately what kind of disease they have, allowing them to target therapies precisely and to avoid harmful delays or mistakes.

Health officials confronted by superbug outbreaks will be able to identify the bug’s strain and begin planning treatment within hours rather than days or weeks, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Soon, researchers in the developing world will take portable DNA sequencers into the field to identify new viruses and verify water quality.

And police investigators will be able to develop a suspect’s DNA profile as quickly as their fictional counterparts do in glossy television dramas, while commandos on the battlefield will identify the bodies of friend and foe.

The man behind the revolution is Jonathan Rothberg, master biotechnician and CEO of Ion Torrent, owned by US firm Life Technologies, which produces the Ion Proton — the world’s first desktop semiconductor-based gene sequencer.

Related: Homeland Security Will Soon Begin Analyzing DNA at Airports [2]