THE HUMAN GENOME mapping and sequencing project is perhaps the prime example of an international project in medicine today (JAMA. 1988;260:2477).
The project director, Nobelist James D. Watson, PhD, noted at the bicentennial conference (see accompanying article) that it may be possible to bring the cost down to as low as 50¢ a base pair (for the approximately 3-billion base-pair genetic message) "without any enormous technological breakthroughs in the 10-nation effort."
Another speaker, George Poste, PhD, DVM, DSc, head of research and development, Smith Kline & French Laboratories, Philadelphia, Pa, predicted that completion of the genetic dictionary will lead to compilation of "a protein dictionary for each cell type" for use against disease. However, he predicted, because of the cost, "technological self-sufficiency will not be possible, I would argue, in probably 5 to 10 years for any single pharmaceutical company." The way to work on some of these problems, he