The cost of reading the human genome — the DNA sequence — has been more than halved by a new approach.
Complete Genomics, a company in California, has “sequenced” three human genomes using chemicals that cost an average of $4,400 (£2,600) a time, offering a cheap and powerful service to scientists investigating the links between DNA and health. The company intends to offer a $5,000 service next year.
The advance, details of which are published in the journal Science, indicates that genome sequences will soon become affordable to the NHS and health insurers.
Patients’ genomes could be used to assess their inherited risk of diseases, and genetic profiles used to prescribe drugs.
Rade Drmanac, the company’s chief scientific officer, said: “What we’re doing is building an engine for medical genomics. The primary focus is to understand the genetic basis of disease. In the next five years, we will need to sequence a million genomes, and we need to make that more affordable. Then the knowledge that is generated can be applied to healthcare and personal genomics.”
Reading the human genetic code cost $10 million two years ago and $1 million last year.
Would you do it if you had a spare $5,000?