Monday, March 26, 2012

Million Genomes by 2014

Without a doubt the hottest company in the genomics sector right now is gene sequencing powerhouse Complete Genomics. In just the last four years the company has come out of nowhere to dominate the market for low cost sequencing of human genomes in large quantities. Although Complete Genomics is now slated to sequence an incredible 5,000 human genomes in 2010, this is nothing compared to what the company has in store for the years ahead.  Just days ago, in a Singularity Hub exclusive interview with Complete Genomics CEO Dr. Cliff Reid, we have learned that the company is now hoping to sequence 50,000 genomes in 2011 and a whopping 1 million genomes by 2014.
 Considering that by the end of 2009 only about 100 or so human genomes had ever been sequenced, most of them by  Complete Genomics, this represents an enormous shift in the industry.

Instead of building individual machines that can be shipped off to laboratories, Complete Genomics is turning the traditional industry model upside down and doing the sequencing itself.  Researchers send Complete Genomics a sample of human DNA in the mail, allow them to process it in their sequencing center, and shortly thereafter they will ship back the sequencing results at a cost and speed that is crushing the rest of the industry.

  In November of last year Complete Genomics announced that they had sequenced 3 human genomes at an average cost of materials below $5000 apiece, shattering all previous records by nearly a factor of ten!  Last year Complete Genomics was charging its customers $20,000 per genome and this year they will be charging $10,000 or less.  We can expect the company’s costs and the prices it charges its customers to continue to drop dramatically in the next few years. The $1,000 genome is indeed within sight.

There are only about 1,000 major human diseases out there.  One million sequenced human genomes will allow us to study the genetics of each of these 1,000 diseases, each with a pool of 1,000 genomes for comparison.
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