DNA Design Firm

The Idea: Reading DNA gives clues to disease

Stage: DNA reveals some diseases, much more to come

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put the whammy on a genetics company, San Diego's Pathway Genomics, which was trying to put DNA testing kits on shelves at Walgreens. The company pulled the kits. But testing DNA for patterns that correlate with diseases won't disappear so easily. BioNanomatrix, a Philadelphia company that provides technology solutions for reading DNA, is working on a grant to get DNA sequencing under $100 by 2015. The long-term possibilities of cheap DNA testing, says Edward Erickson, BioNanomatrix's president and CEO, involve a better understanding of aging and endless possibilities for new ways to cure and treat disease. "The great dream is that you take a person's DNA when they are a baby and you profile it in a very thorough way," Erickson said. "You say look, this baby is healthy in most ways, but this baby's DNA shows us the baby is at extreme risk." In one example, if the risk were for heart disease, therapies could start at a young age rather than waiting decades before early symptoms show up. "We are already capable of looking at the total amount of DNA that one sees in the human genome."

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