Our biotechnological future is coming even faster than I expected. A Mountain View California biotech start-up, Complete Genomics, operating in stealth mode since a 2006 founding, has announced availability of personal complete DNA sequencing for $5000 in 2Q 2009. If they pull this off it is an amazing achievement.
The cost of determining a person’s complete genetic blueprint is about to plummet again — to $5,000.
That is the price that a start-up company called Complete Genomics says it will start charging next year for determining the sequence of the genetic code that makes up the DNA in one set of human chromosomes. The company is set to announce its plans on Monday.
Cheap! Starting to feel tempted yet?
"I have great confidence that it's right," said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab geneticist Michael Eisen. "I don't know exactly what the underlying method is, but George Church isn't a kidder."
George Church is a Harvard University geneticist who helped found the Human Genome Project and was responsible for the first commercial genome sequence. He's also an adviser to the Mountain View, California-based Complete Genomics, provider of the $5,000 genome — and joining Church is Illumina co-founder Mark Chee, Institute for Systems Biology president Leroy Hood and Massachusetts Institute of Technology bioengineer Douglas Lauffenburger
But Complete Genomics is going to start out aiming at institutional customers. You might have to wait for individual customer access.
Based in Mountain View, Calif., Complete Genomics has raised $46 million in three rounds of financing since its incorporation in 2006. Unlike its commercial next-gen sequencing rivals – Roche/454, Illumina, Applied Biosystems (ABI) and Helicos – Complete Genomics will not be selling individual instruments, but rather offer a service aimed initially at big pharma and major genome institutes.
Complete Genomics is building what Reid calls “the world’s largest complete human genome sequencing center so we can sequence thousands of complete human genomes, so that researchers can conduct clinical trial-sized studies.” If all goes according to plan, that 32,000-square-feet facility will deliver 1,000 human genomes in 2009 and an eye-popping 20,000 genomes in 2010.
At $5000 per genome I think they'll easily sell out their capacity for the first 1000 genomes in 2009.
With materials costs of only $1000 per genome they think they'll sequence 1 million genomes in the next 5 years.
The company also said it intends to open additional genome sequencing centers across the U.S. and abroad. Over the next five years, the company projects that 10 such centers will be able to sequence 1 million complete human genomes.
Our problem becomes how to make sense of all this DNA sequencing data? That data needs to be matched with lots of physical measurements, medical histories, psychometric tests, exercise tests, and other data gathering to allow correlation of all the DNA sequencing differences with various human characteristics.
The approach uses DNA nanoballs. These things are called concatamers which probably refers to concatenation.
The first step is to prepare a gridded array of up to a billion DNA nanoballs, or DNBs. These DNBs are concatamers of 80-basepair (bp) mate-paired fragments of genomic DNA, punctuated with synthetic DNA adapters. The 80-bp fragments are derived from a pair of roughly 40-bp fragments that reside a known distance apart (say 500 bases or 10,000 bases). “We insert an adapter to break the 40 bases into 20 bases or 25 bases,” which acts like “a zip code or address into the DNA,” says Drmanac.
The sample preparation amplifies the DNA templates in solution rather than an emulsion or on a platform. It produces about 10 billion DNBs – each about 290 nm in diameter – in just 1 ml solution. “We spent lots of energy to make them small and sticky to the surface,” says Drmanac. The DNBs are spread onto a surface gridded with 300-nm diameter wells (prepared using photolithography) spaced just 1 micron apart. The DNBs settle into the wells like so many balls dropping into the pockets of a roulette wheel.
One promising use of cheap DNA sequencing data is in the study of cancer cells. Sequencing of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of cancers will lead to much better identification of how DNA mutations contribute to cancer development.
So how cheap would DNA sequencing have to get before you'd pony up to get yourself sequenced? Once the price gets down to a few thousand dollars I'll be waiting more for useful information the sequencing data can provide than for a further price reduction. We are going to have to wait a few more years before we know enough about genetic differences for personal sequencing to provide useful information to most of us.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 October 06 10:16 PM Biotech Advance Rates|