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Bargain Basement Prices for Genome Sequencing

David Weitz and his team of Harvard University physicists are attempting to adapt microfluidics technology to sequence DNA, reports MIT's Technology Review. If they succeed, the price of sequencing a human genome could plummet to about $30. The technology, which was developed in Weitz's lab, uses picoliter droplets of water as test tubes, says Technology Review's Emily Singer. The droplets can be moved around on a microfluidics chip, injected with chemicals, and sorted based on their color. "Because the droplets are so small, they require much smaller volumes of the chemicals used in the sequencing reaction than do current technologies," Singer says. "These reagents comprise the major cost of sequencing, and most estimates of the cost to sequence a human genome with a particular technology are calculated using the cost of the chemicals." Because he uses fewer reagents, Singer adds, Weitz thinks he can sequence a human genome 30 times for $30. The researchers haven't yet sequenced any DNA with this technique, but they've formed a start-up called GnuBio, and are looking for venture funding to continue the work and commercialize the technology, Singer says.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.