A human genome can be sequenced for as little as $1,000, down from $400 million 15 years ago. Increased computing power means researchers can sort through reams of sequencing data and health records to find patterns linking specific genes to diseases.
Drugs that would attack these new genetic targets promise to modify the course of diseases, if not cure them, researchers say. But there would still be years of work to develop the drugs and prove they are safe and effective.
“This is a very important and necessary first step, but it is not sufficient,” said Jeffrey Leiden, chief executive of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. After the cystic-fibrosis gene was discovered in 1989, it took Vertex until 2012 to get approval for the first drug treating one genetic mutation involved in the disease.