For the first time, doctors have used DNA-sequencing technology to diagnose and treat a boy in an emergency. It's a big step for DNA sequencing—that the technology is able to work so quickly, and to help a patient directly. As useful as DNA sequencing is for research and genetic counseling, before this, no one had ever used it to diagnose and decide treatment for somebody with an infectious disease in a time crunch.
It will take years of more research to make technology like this commonplace, the New York Times reports. When that happens, however, DNA sequencing could simplify some of medicine's trickiest infectious-disease diagnoses—ones where the disease is rare, or ones where many diseases might give people the same symptoms. The New York Times offered Lyme disease as an example.