Science shows way out

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Science shows way out

Researchers at Gachon University of Medicine and Science and a state-run institute have completed a genome sequence map of a Korean, a remarkable achievement in the science field and beyond. The event shows us a way to overcome the economic crisis.

A personal genome map contains information about the individual’s genes. If personal genome maps are commercialized, tailored medical treatment will be available. The technology will help people learn which diseases they are most vulnerable to and help prevent them. Doctors will be able to prescribe medicines that would work best for individual patients. This is why the biotechnology, science and medical fields in advanced countries are concentrating energy and resources to find more cost-effective ways to decipher individuals’ genome maps.

Drawing a personal genome map is a complicated task that requires more than 16 repeated tests and deciphering more than 90 percent of 3 billion base pairs. Therefore the high cost has been a hindrance to further development.

In 2002, the U.S. National Institutes of Health invested $3 billion in deciphering the human genome sequence for the first time. As the technology rapidly developed, the cost fell to $300 million in 2007 and $1 million early this year. If the trend continues, the cost to decipher an individual’s genome sequence is expected to drop to around $1,000 by 2013. That will mark the beginning of a revolution in bioengineering that allows people affordable access to their genetic information.

Time magazine recently named a consumer gene test service as the year’s best invention. It is now only a matter of time before a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars for deciphering genome sequences opens. The incoming Barack Obama administration will likely fully support research into biotechnology and finding alternative energy sources.

Now is the time for us to move beyond the negative aftermath of the Hwang Woo-suk scandal and make a new scientific beginning. Human resources and medical techniques in the domestic biological and science fields are world-class. The recent research at Gachon University of Medicine and Science has proved that we are competent enough to compete on the global stage.

In the past we overcame a financial crisis through an IT revolution. It is obvious what field the government and companies must concentrate their energies and resources on this time.
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