Feature

Faster, Cheaper, Better

Easier genetic sequencing could make personalized medicine a reality

Imagine that you have the flu. After spending a couple of days with a hacking cough, a blazing fever, and muscles aching to the core, you finally head to the clinic. There, your primary care physician takes notes as you list your symptoms. As your monologue of complaints grinds to a halt, she pulls a page from the middle of your chart and nods. "It's just as I suspected. Your genes make you especially vulnerable to this year's strain of flu virus," she says.

After reviewing a summary of your unique genetic sequence, she continues, "I'd give you the standard flu drug, but you have a mutation that makes you unable to metabolize that medicine." However, you're in luck—your doctor adds that a new drug developed specifically for people with your genetic profile has just entered the market. As she hands you the prescription, you marvel at the wonders of modern medicine.

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