Genome as Commodity

In a few years, millions will have purchased their own genome

3 min read

For the price of a sports car, you can have a pint of your blood drawn and a month later receive your entire genome—all 6 billion base pairs—encoded in a 1.5-gigabyte data file. That means the price has dropped to 1/50 000 of what it was less than a decade ago (the first genome, after all, cost US $3 billion). Yet the price is expected to fall to 1/1000 of the current price in the next four years.

The cultural ramifications of a $100 genome—which is where we’re headed, whether it takes 4 years or 10—are as wide and deep as those of any other recent innovation, including search engines and cellphones.

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A New Treatment for Arthritis: Vagus-Nerve Stimulation

Studies will soon show whether electroceuticals outperform pharmaceuticals

5 min read
A tablet computer, a smartphone, a grey belt with white stripes, a grey disc, and a small silver rectangle with a wire curled beside it.

Galvani’s system includes a nerve stimulator that attaches to the splenic nerve.

Galvani Bioelectronics

Monique Robroek once had such crippling arthritis that, even with the best available medications, she struggled to walk across a room. But thanks to an electronic implant fitted under her skin, she managed to wean herself off all her drugs and live pain-free for nearly a decade—until recently, when a viral illness made her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare up again.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

Robroek’s long remission is “very impressive” and rare among patients with RA, says her doctor Frieda Koopman, a rheumatologist at Amsterdam UMC, in the Netherlands. Robroek’s experience highlights the immense potential of so-called bioelectronic medicine, also known as electroceuticals, an emerging field of treatment for diseases that have traditionally been managed with pharmaceuticals alone.

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