The medical world may be on the verge of a major breakthrough on par with the discovery of penicillin. As profiled in this NYT piece, a number of Silicon Valley companies and entrepreneurs are looking to lower the price of genome sequencing to the point that it will be within reach of the average consumer (below $1,000)—a development which could lead to the biggest revolution in drugs and medical treatments in years.This is extremely good news. New advances in medical technology offer the opportunity to make healthcare both better and dramatically cheaper for millions of people, which is no small achievement at a time where healthcare expenses are nearing 20 percent of GDP and threatening to bankrupt the country. Genome sequencing could also create treatments for debilitating diseases which are currently incurable; personalized medicine could become the key to problems which have vexed doctors for decades.More generally, this news is a reminder that the rapid scientific progress that is driving all the change around us is not slowing down. Scientific progress is rarely smooth, of course, as this recent WSJ piece on the problems with personalized medicine can attest, but it’s a net positive. In the future, people will receive effective treatments for diseases which are a death sentence today, and at a fraction of the cost of modern medical treatments. Even the staunchest Luddite should be happy about that.
Medical Breakthrough on Its Way