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Clinical applications of NGS optimizes healthcare in cancer treatment, vaccine development, and understanding allergies.
FREMONT, CA: Scientists could read humans' entire genetic blueprint through traditional DNA sequencing methods. Emerging sequencing solutions are opening new doors to various clinical applications. Traditional DNA sequencing techniques could have been more time-consuming and efficient. Although the HGP achieved groundbreaking results, new technologies, such as next-generation sequencing, have since emerged. Sequencing DNA using a modern and rapid method can read large volumes of DNA sequences simultaneously.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has greatly improved DNA sequencing accuracy by minimizing errors. The NGS revolutionized healthcare by lowering sequencing costs and reducing diagnosis times. Currently, it takes less than 6 hours to sequence the human genome.
The following applications leverage NGS to streamline healthcare.
Cancer Treatment: Medical professionals have always found cancer challenging because each type of cancer is different, and even a type of cancer may behave differently in different individuals.
DNA sequencing can identify unique errors in DNA that cause cancer. It is now possible for scientists to use NGS to analyze the genomes of individual patients and identify the DNA errors specific to each individual. Doctors can then design customized treatments for each patient based on this information. There are cases in which two similarly afflicted patients will respond differently to the same treatment-a treatment that cures one will fail to cure the other. NGS can detect small changes in the genomes of two individuals, which can be used to personalize therapy for individual patients.
Vaccines: During the COVID-19 pandemic, sequencing has been tremendously helpful for investigating the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and developing vaccines. SARS-CoV2 was sequenced using NGS, enabling researchers to understand its genetic characteristics, such as the spike protein, which threatens the immune system. As viruses evolve, so do their variants. An NGS analysis was also useful when tracking new variants.
Allergies: Genomic sequencing helps scientists determine a person's likelihood of having an allergy to gluten or lactose intolerance based on their genome. The sequence of a person's DNA may affect their chance of developing allergies.