Genome Sequencing Costs Set To Plunge Below $1,000 For The First Time

Posted 10 January 2012 | By

A Connecticut company, Life Technologies Corp, is announcing that they have manufactured a machine that has broken the $1,000 genome sequencing barrier that has long been seen as a milestone in providing affordable sequencing technologies to the public.

The machine itself is set to cost between $99,000 and $149,000-well below the $750,000 that some current genome sequencing models cost. The machine reportedly uses materials that can sequence the an entire human genome for under $1,000.

As impressive as the cost-per-genome sequencing costs are-and the claim is not without its detractors-the speed at which the machine can sequence genomes is also generating significant press. The company boasts that its machine, called the Ion Proton, can sequence an entire genome in just a few hours instead of the current standard of days or weeks.

The machine's cost and size-about the size of a LaserJet printer-could make it useful to clinicians and industry alike, which might opt to sequence a patient's genome to determine if a treatment is necessary or likely to work. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), too, may demand such data to support future marketing approval applications.

The Ion Proton is reportedly coming to market in about one year, by which time Life Technologies hopes to have made additional improvements. The pace of advancements in the genome sequencing field has dramatically exceeded expectations, with sequencing costs falling from $100 million dollars per genome in 2001, to $10 million in 2006, to just $50 thousand in 2009. If costs continue to fall at their present rate, we could see a dramatically cheaper genome sequencing test within the next few years.


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