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Friday, Apr 12, 2024

Scripps Institute to Get $4M for DNA Research

Unraveling the mystery of DNA sequencing , and doing it for less money , may be more feasible thanks to a $4.2 million grant the Scripps Research Institute is to receive from the National Institutes of Health.

Once the process becomes cheaper to sequence a human genome, which is all of an individual’s genes combined, doctors may eventually be able to identify the diseases to which people are more prone before their onset.

The sector of NIH responsible for the human genome project, the National Human Genome Research Institute, is delivering Scripps’ grant as part of a $32 million allocation to about a dozen scientists across the globe , two of who are San Diego-based.

Scientists Reza Ghadiri, a chemistry professor at Scripps, will receive the $4.2 million for his research during the next five years, and Xiaohua Huang, a faculty member in UC San Diego’s Bioengineering Department, will receive $750,000. Hagan Bayley, of Oxford University, is working collaboratively with Ghadiri on research on nanopores, which are tiny channels in a membrane.

Huang’s research focuses on allowing DNA to be sequenced on a single miniature device.

Currently, it costs about $10 million to decode the genes of one person.

The genome institute’s goal is to lower the cost to $100,000, and eventually to $1,000, to make it practical for routine health care. This would allow doctors to tailor diagnosis, treatment and prevention to patients’ genetic profiles.

“It would be an enormous boom to health care,” Scripps’ Ghadiri said. “You may know what diseases you are predisposed to. Just like we look different on the outside, on the inside we look different. Some medicines might work better on some than others. Some people might be more prone to certain cancers, and it would be beneficial to know that.”

Joe Panetta, the president and chief executive officer of Biocom, San Diego’s biotech trade organization, said it’s impressive to think about San Diego scientists being among such an elite group who could change the face of medical care.

“This could lead to the day when ineffective treatments and adverse reactions are a thing of the past,” Panetta said. “The critical mass of chemistry and biology needed to move this technology forward, along with the entrepreneurial spirit to make it succeed, are all part of the fabric of the Torrey Pines Mesa.”

Scripps is near the Torrey Pines Mesa in La Jolla, along with multiple biotechnology companies and other research institutes.


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