So what's been going on? Well, my flatmate lhiss is now my ex-flatmate lhiss, having moved out at the weekend to take up his new post-doc post at UMIST. This involved me doing a little bit of lifting on Saturday, and a little more on Sunday. On the latter, I also got driven up to the Peak District and back, which was fantastic. I've not been in that area for 15 years, and I'd quite forgotten how fantastic it is. I met a couple more members of his family, who were likewise very worthwhile. Friday was the pub, dampened slightly by finding that a friend-of-a-friend had died that day. Saturday was a party, which was good and involved a few people from Londonshire that I don't normally see very often. I found out today that after me leaving for shopping/pub/party, kitty_goth phoned to say he was in town. Arse. Missed him. Sorry - I'll catch you soon, if I can.
Today's big news from my point of view was this story from the NY times (free registration required) concerning a company called US Genomics, who've just been awarded a patent on a new DNA sequencing method which can, allegedly, already race through 200 kilobases in a few minutes. For comparison, I think our ABI 3700s manage about 50 kilobases in about an hour and a half. Their claim is that by the time they're ready for production they'll be able to do a whole human genome in about half an hour. I'll repeat that now, just so you don't think you've picked me up wrong : "By the end of the year, Mr Chan hopes to be able to read a million bases a run, and, ultimately, an entire genome - about 3 billion base pairs - in a half-hour." Now, is that a dramatic claim or what?
The phrase that comes to my mind is "sufficiently advanced technology". I take it you've all seen Gattaca? Well, if not, maybe it's about time you did.
That's part one of "Why Graham Is Surprised And Impressed Today."
Part two is as follows :
I printed the story out and showed it to my boss, who was suitably interested (and, of course, cautious about believing PR-speak). I said I'd have a slight dig around - it was the end of the day, after all - so in fairly short order I found their website (exactly where you'd expect it to be and had a quick shuftie. Not much in the way of specifics, but in the list of press releases, this one caught my eye. They've announced a collaboration with, as far as I can tell, the first other organisation to be allowed to play with their technology and try to get real results from real samples on a real project with it. It's "The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a world leader in sequencing human and other genomic data."
Jesus fuck a shit soufflé. News to me. News to my boss. Although apparently it wouldn't be too surprising for Ian Dunham to keep it under his hat for a little while. Still, his secret's out now. US Genomics' own press release is here.
"Your genome sequenced, madam? Certainly. For collection, or while-you-wait?"