This is what Michael Snyder’s diabetes onset looked like.
What’s the News: Have you ever wondered what is going on in your body at the molecular level when you’re sick? If you could see which medications, whether for treating cold symptoms or cancer, had an effect on you, and whether changing your diet, exercise, or some other factor would increase their effectiveness, you’d gain a lot of power over your body.
This kind of detailed information would start with getting your genome sequenced, but it wouldn’t stop there. It would require a constant stream of information about which genes are being expressed, at what levels, and in what tissues, and what else is going with your metabolism. That level of granularity has been the goal of geneticist Michael Snyder’s work and it has yielded a striking new paper: Snyder’s team analyzed samples of his own blood, taken over the course of 14 months, and were able to watch in real-time as the geneticist developed type 2 diabetes and successfully arrested its progress.
The bacterium Micavibrio aeruginosavorus (yellow), leeching
on a Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium (purple).
What’s the news: If bacteria had blood, the predatory microbe Micavibrio aeruginosavorus would essentially be a vampire: it subsists by hunting down other bugs, attaching to them, and sucking their life out. For the first time, researchers have sequenced the genome of this strange microorganism, which was first identified decades ago in sewage water. The sequence will help better understand the unique bacterium, which has potential to be used as a “living antibiotic” due to its ability to attack drug-resistant biofilms and its apparent fondness for dining on pathogens.
Insight into long life is one of the new prize’s goals.
In 2006, the Genomics X Prize competition was announced: $10 million for sequencing 100 human genomes in 10 days for $10,000 apiece, to be kicked off in 2013. The idea was to spur innovation in technology by asking the (currently) impossible, the hallmark of the X Prize Foundation.
But while sequencing has gotten cheap, it hasn’t gotten all that much faster in the last five years, and none of the eight teams who signed up have ever gotten to the point where such a short time span could be feasible. So, Archon and Medco, the two companies funding the competition, have revamped the requirements. This week they’ve announced the new, improved Genomics X prize: $10 million for sequencing 100 human genomes in 30 days—but for $1,000 apiece. (Currently, getting your genome sequenced commercially runs about $5000 at the cheapest.) The new version of the competition, which will kick off on January 3, 2013, also has clearer standards for judging: the genomes have to be 98 percent complete and have no more than one error per million nucleotides.
What’s the News: Scientists have been rooting around in the rice genome for years, and the same goes for wheat. But now the long-recalcitrant potato genome has finally been sequenced. Time for a celebration? Perhaps, but biologists can’t rest for long: in addition to the just-published genome, there are still three more to sequence in each commercial potato.