The Superhighway of Your DNA

By Sandy K. Johnson

Mapping the human genome is the medical equivalent of a “human GPS,” says Dr. Alexander Parker of Mayo Clinic. The promise of this roadmap will revolutionize how disease can be prevented, detected and treated – zeroing in on each individual.

Once the genome sequence was mapped in 2003, the cost of mapping one person’s genome has dropped dramatically from $100 million to less than $1,000 and it now can be done in 24 hours, Parker said.

A diagnostic odyssey based on a patient’s genome is an important tool for physicians. “If we do this genetic sequencing, about 25 percent of the time we will find a cause for a disease. And we will get better,” Parker said. As an example of a diagnostic odyssey, he showed a brief video of the case of a young man afflicted with episodic ataxia whose successful treatment has changed his life.