November 01, 2015
Sharp Drop In DNA Sequencing Prices In 2015

The cost of sequencing a human genome has taken a sharp dive in 2015. Getting close to $1000.

cost_per_genome_oct2015.jpg

You will notice the rate of change has varied. The decline sped up sharply in 2008, falling one and a half orders of magnitude in a single year. As measured logarithmically 2008 was the year of sharpest price decline. The rate of decline in 2012, 2013, and 2014 was pretty slow. I'm happy to see the decline has sped up again.

What is the current price of full genome sequencing? That depends. A genome normally gets sequenced multiple times because a single pass through it will have errors. 30x times is considered medical grade and costs $1850 right now. Today spending that money isn't going to help you much because the sequence requires interpretation to make sense of it.

Today the main benefit of cheaper DNA sequencing is scientific: lower cost allows collection of large numbers of genomes to compare genomes and attributes of people (e.g. many details of physical shape, physical abilities, mental abilities, health histories) to identify which genetic variants contribute to all of those attributes. If the impacts of large numbers of genetic variants were known only then would we each individually derive a substantial advantage from getting our genomes sequenced.

With $1000 genomes a few million people could be sequenced and a great deal of information about each person could be collected. Then their DNA sequences could be analyzed and compared to identify genetic variants that play a role in physical and mental abilities, health risks, personality types, and other attributes.

Another big future benefit from cheap DNA sequencing: the ability to compare cancer genomes from different cancers to identify which genetic mutations contribute to the formation and spread of cancers.

What the present much lower cost of sequencing tells us: the number of genetic variants with known impact is going to soar in the next 5 years and soar even more in the next 10 years. By the year 2025 the number of pieces of useful information you can get from getting yourself sequenced is going to be large. It is going to be especially large for people who are thinking about having kids. Embryo selection with IVF and genetic testing will take off once people can select between embryos to get offspring more to their liking.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 November 01 08:38 PM 


Comments
Abelard Lindsey said at November 2, 2015 8:20 AM:

Sequencing is one thing. Synthesizing is another. The problem is that the cost of synthesizing is not dropping at the same rate as sequencing.

John said at November 4, 2015 11:14 AM:

Although sequencing is becoming less expensive, the raw data is useless. The big expensive will the analysis and interpretation of the data. So a $1000 test is a possibility, but a $10,000 review, analysis, and interpretation of the data is needed. [DNA data, stings of ATGC's is similar to binary information, 1/0, in that is means nothing to just look at the string of data.] I am a genetics physician and obtaining this kind of testing is easy, the hard part is knowing what it means.

TTT said at November 4, 2015 11:47 AM:

The other bottlenecks in the process are delaying this from being useful. Synthesizing among other things.

The huge price plunge from 2007-12 did not revolutionize medicine for average people.

When computing power dropped in price by a factor of 1 million (1985-2015), we saw what happened. That the cost of sequencing has not done the same indicates that it is not the entire system that is dropping in price.

TTT said at November 4, 2015 12:11 PM:

I think this 'review' piece may not cost that much in time.

It does not have to be a face-to-face with a US MD. You could get it done online with cheaper Indian or Chinese doctors, from a medical resident trying to earn some cash, etc.

Since it does not require a patient visit, the cost will not be high once demand volume is significant.

once people can select between embryos to get offspring more to their liking.

Since Heartiste has transformed from a PUA blog to a Stormfront one, where the same topic each day is how black people are inferior due to an IQ of 80, they should be thrilled, since now every baby will be IQ 120+

John said at November 4, 2015 12:32 PM:

There are approximately 6000000000 base pairs of DNA in the human genome, each of which can be a A,T,G,or C. Thus, there are [6000000000 to the 4th power] possible combinations of base pairs. (Of course, in practice, only certain sequences are physiologically possible or need detailed analysis.) Thus, one needs a super computer and hours (days?) of physician time to analyze each person's DNA. Even a "cheaper" Indian doctor will still be relative costly. Second, there are not nearly enough experts in genetics to do the work on large numbers of individuals.

TTT said at November 4, 2015 12:55 PM:

Thus, one needs a super computer and hours (days?) of physician time to analyze each person's DNA.

The supercomputer of today becomes the desktop of later on. Plus, Amazon's cloud rental platform can perhaps suffice with a one-hour rental.

econd, there are not nearly enough experts in genetics to do the work on large numbers of individuals.

This can correct quickly once demand arises, as with any new field. Udacity and GA Tech can create an MS in Genomic Informatics degree just like they have a MOOC MSCS degree already, for $6700 that can take in 10,000 students remotely. Plus, AI can be used for this purpose too, with appropriate modifications.

Deborah said at November 4, 2015 6:44 PM:

Good evening,

Hope all are doing well.

On October 20, 2015, 23andMe just announced that they're not only raising their price for their autosomal test, they're actually doubling it, from $99. to $199.

I understand this isn't complete sequencing, but it points out 23andMe's position of bucking the traditional trend of bringing the price down, as technology advances.

TTT said at November 4, 2015 10:23 PM:

I understand this isn't complete sequencing, but it points out 23andMe's position of bucking the traditional trend of bringing the price down, as technology advances.

That is only because Sergey Brin and Ann Wojcicki are divorced, and Sergey is no longer making the major decisions for 23andme. 23andme, which now is really being run by Ann, is bound to destroy itself due Ann believing that she actually has the talent to run a tech company. She probably goes to Sheryl Sandberg (who also has never founded or run anything) for advice.

genomics said at November 4, 2015 10:27 PM:

In fact this analysis do not cotain the cost of other additional bioinformatic analysis. So it is still not "cheap".

TTT said at November 5, 2015 2:03 PM:

Yes. The enabling factors are many, and are not getting cheaper, so this is still a decade or more away from helping any mainstream people.

Just like self-driving cars, where the time between the first few that grab headlines, vs. wide availability and the macro benefits of having most or all cars self-driving, is at least 15 years..

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