The Wall Street Journal reports today that two major manufacturers of "high through put genotyping" equipment and "gene chips" -- Affymetrix Inc. and Illumina, Inc. -- are in a "price war" that appears to be accelerating genetic research. "[G]enotype scans seek to locate and identify the genes that predispose groups of people to certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or neurodegenerative conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. But the discoveries made by such scans are expected to eventually lead to new genetic diagnostic tests and therapies that can find and treat a range of genetic illnesses." For example, last month, Affymetrix announced that "A comprehensive scan of the human genome [using their equipment] has identified more than 50 genetic abnormalities in people with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease). * * * Just a couple of years ago, this experiment would not have been possible because there simply wasn't a technology that enabled scientists to sift through the three billion molecules in the genome to find the genetic abnormalities that cause disease."
This is revolutionary. According to the Journal, "[r]esearchers say increasing affordability allows their labs to do more, bigger or different scans, boosting the chances to find genes related to diseases." Very interesting reading.