November 05, 2009
Genome Sequencing Cost Drops Below $5000

Futuristic speculative questions sometimes become present day practical questions. Have you asked yourself what price you'd be willing to pay to get your genome fully sequenced?

Complete Genomics, a start-up based in Mountain View, CA, has again lowered the stick in the financial limbo dance of human genome sequencing, announcing in the journal Science that it has sequenced three human genomes for an average cost of $4,400. The most recently sequenced genome--which happens to be that of genomics pioneer George Church--cost just $1,500 in chemicals, the cheapest published yet.

This doesn't mean you can get your genome sequenced for $4400. They also had labor, equipment, and lab space costs as well as data post-processing costs. But the overall costs are still very low.

Their accuracy rate exceeds that of previous efforts at complete genome sequencing.

In order to estimate their error rate, the researchers tested 291 random novel non-synonymous variants by targeted sequencing in sample NA07022. Based on the results, they calculated an error rate of about one in 100,000 bases, which the company claims "exceeds the accuracy rate achieved in other published complete genome sequences."

While the price keeps dropping the practical value of a person's genetic sequence is rising with more discoveries about what all the genetic differences mean. The rapid descent in genome sequencing costs has advanced so far that lower prices matter less than what you can do with the information. At this point the bigger improvements to the value equation for getting a full genome sequencing will come from scientific discoveries about what all the genetic variations mean.

The lower prices will lead to a flood of genetic data that will lead to discoveries about what the data means. In a few years knowing your full genetic sequence will become quite useful.

Recently Pauline C. Ng, Sarah S. Murray, Samuel Levy and J. Craig Venter sent genetic samples to genetic testing services Navigenics and 23andme and wrote a paper in nature comparing the results. The two companies were pretty accurate in their testing. But their interpretations of the results differed and were speculative. Click thru and read the details. We do not yet know enough about the real significance of the vast bulk of the genetic differences.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 05 10:36 PM  Biotech Advance Rates

Mthson said at November 5, 2009 11:46 PM:

If I was someone who had the ear of the masses, I'd certainly try to help raise general awareness by getting my genome sequenced. It'd do more to influence the general culture and generate increased political will if we sequence the genomes of people like Brad Pitt, instead of just sequencing the genomes of scientific elites like Craig Venter.

Mirco said at November 6, 2009 9:43 AM:

Not Brad Pitt, sequence Angelina Jolie.

Jonathan said at November 6, 2009 2:07 PM:

Angelina..... anyway, I would pay $100 for my complete genome mapped. Sure you could spend $5k here or there today but wait another few years and it will be less than a tenth of the price. As a guy who just turned 30 I am in no particular hurry.

PacRim Jim said at November 7, 2009 3:56 PM:

After it drops one or two more orders of magnitude, you'll have to be careful where you leave those hair follicles. You never know who'll be sequencing it. Takes stalking to a new level.

MrJimm said at November 8, 2009 7:52 AM:

"Their error rate exceeds that of previous efforts at complete genome sequencing."

Careful on your language there - my first impression was that they had far MORE errors than previous attepmts.
But all-in-all, interesting news!

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