IBM To Develop Low-Cost Gene Reader

IBM has partnered with medical device manufacturer Roche to develop a low-cost tool capable of analysing the human genome.

Business Week reports that the device will allow doctors to analyse a patient's genetic makeup within a matter of seconds.

IBM warned, however, that the technology is unlikely to be available for another decade.

Ajay Royyuru, a computational biology engineer at IBM Research, said: “The cost of genome sequencing has come down, and the speed has begun to improve, but there are still problems with speed, scale, throughput, as well as cost.”

He explained that the breakthrough technology was based on IBM's DNA Transistor, which uses 'nanopores' to read individual strands of human DNA by identifying each DNA base with an electric field.

IBM believes that by being able to read the human genome, doctors will be better able to tailor medical care to a patient's needs. It will also highlight a patient's susceptibility to specific diseases.