Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, September 16, 2006
Rare gene machine stirs Mac researcher
McMaster University took delivery of a very special package this week.
It contained what could well be described as a time machine — one with the power to create an exact picture of organisms and environments that existed long before recorded history.
The machine is a genome sequencer — one of fewer than 40 in the world and one of only two in Canada — and is capable of doing in hours what had until recently taken scientists years.
The sequencing machine, developed by Swiss giant Roche Diagnostics and introduced last October, is neither pretty nor cheap.
It is as plain as a large photocopier on a rolling stand, and it plugs into the wall like any common appliance. But at $750,000, it does much more than anything you’ll find at Office Depot.
Specifically, the genome sequencer reads and analyzes DNA bases, at a speed scientists had never previously imagined. A large mammal such as a human might have 2.8 billion base pairings. (Hamilton Spectator)