Friday, May 13, 2011

The $101,000 Genome

It appears that there are now three things that are unavoidable in human life:
  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. The high cost of analyzing our genomic data
While it seems likely that next generation single molecule sequencing technology can reduce the cost of sequencing a human being’s genome to under US$1,000, an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) reported that the cost of analyzing genomic data for practical medical uses has not been reduced in the last 10 years. Over the same period, whole genome sequencing costs have been sliced by three orders of magnitude. The cost of analyzing genomic data is presently the high hurdle for practical use of whole genome sequencing in personalized medicine – a conservative estimate for this cost reported in CEN was about US$100,000!
There is some hope on the horizon, however. Translational medicine groups are incorporating genomic data into drug discovery at the start of the process; new technologies such as Ion Torrent should reduce data sets (no CCD imaging!) making analysis less expensive; and Pharma are collaborating with each other like never before and using public domain cloud computing and open source software.
We shall have to wait and see what happens ...
By Peter Banks, Scientific Director

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