Human Genome sequencing to be offered for $5000

February 8, 2009

(ChattahBox) — This probably has more to do with advancements in technology then the recession but the price of sequencing a human genome is set to drop significantly. A company called Complete Genomics, based in Mountain View, California, says it will offer to read entire human genomes at $5000 a shot. companies and academic researchers will be able to start placing orders at the quoted $5000 price tag starting June 2009.

Compare that to the $1 million the first individual to have his genome sequenced, James Watson – co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix paid in 2007, it’s amazing how the price to sequence has dropped.  Several companies are now working on advanced technologies to allow faster and cheaper sequencing.But so far, personal genome sequencing has been the preserve of the super-rich. Knome of Cambridge, Massachusetts, today offers the service for $99,500, through a contract with a team at the Beijing Genomics Institute in China.

Complete Genomics’ first human genome sequence from a blood sample collected in 1980 from a 63-year-old man, has been released on its website. The company’s technology relies on immobilising amplified fragments of DNA on a high-density silicon array, so that the fragments’ sequences can be read quickly and efficiently. To do this, circles of DNA about 230 bases long are copied multiple times to form “nanoballs” that stick to the array.

Even with the smaller price tag first customers are likely to be academic researchers and drug firms that want to understand how genetic variation affects people’s responses to their products. But as prices continue to come down, the technology could also be attractive to companies that are already offering more limited genome scans to members of the public. Still price to consumers will remain higher than the basic cost of sequencing a genome, as much of the value comes from the expert analysis needed to interpret the sequence.

If things go as planned Complete Genomics could also be eligible for the Archon X Prize for Genomics, which will give $10 million for the first team to sequence 100 human genomes in less than 10 days for less than $10,000 each. The company has not yet entered the competition, however, as it intends to concentrate on fulfilling commercial orders. The company aims to sequence up to 1000 human genomes in 2009, and 20,000 in 2010.

New Scientist


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