The $100 Human Genome.
Emerging markets meltdown.
1. Bay Area biotech Ultima Genomics on Tuesday claimed that its technology can sequence a whole human genome for $100, making it a surprise player in the race to read DNA quickly, accurately, and cheaply. The company didn’t provide specifics or immediately reply to an inquiry from STAT as to how it calculated that cost. But a $100 genome would represent a major drop in price, one that could help researchers unlock sequencing’s potential to unravel the mysteries of undiagnosed diseases, spot early signs of cancer, and better understand human health. That’s because while the cost of reading a full human genome has plummeted from around $95 million in 2001 to about $560 in 2021, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute, sequencing is still too pricey to be routinely used in health care and research. (Sources: statnews.com, ultimagenomics.com, genome.gov)
2. Apart from water and air, humble sand is the natural resource most consumed by human beings. People use more than 40 billion tons of sand and gravel every year. There's so much demand that riverbeds and beaches around the world are being stripped bare. (Desert sand generally doesn't work for construction; shaped by wind rather than water, desert grains are too round to bind together well.) And the amount of sand being mined is increasing exponentially. Though the supply might seem endless, sand is a finite resource like any other. The worldwide construction boom of recent years—all those mushrooming megacities, from Lagos to Beijing—is devouring unprecedented quantities; extracting it is a $70 billion industry. In Dubai enormous land-reclamation projects and breakneck skyscraper-building have exhausted all the nearby sources. Exporters in Australia are literally selling sand to Arabs. The global demand for plain old sand is so high that illegal mines are everywhere, and mafias around the world are killing for the stuff. (Source: wired.com)
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