Monday, March 7, 2011

Cost of Genome Sequencing Dropping like a Rock

Check out this graph from

Note the logarithmic scale on the vertical axis!  Something else you may not recognize is Moore's Law, which is a long-term trend in the computer hardware industry that involves the doubling of computing power, a decent comparison to show the great progress of sequencing technology.  Five years ago it cost over $10 million, but today it costs only $20,000 to sequence an entire human genome.

In the sequencing technology industry, the big goal is to develop a $1000 genome sequence in the next 5 years.  If (more like when) this happens,  I believe many things will change in medicine, and I bet many of you reading this may get your DNA sequenced by such a machine within the next decade.

For my next post I'll talk about nanopore sequencing, a cool technology that may get us to this 1000 dollar mark!


  1. This is really, really wild, and totally freaks me out, because it means loads of viable commercial applications are right around the corner. Yikes.

  2. The most important use, from my perspective, is finding mutations and diseases. If this is possible to stop cancer before it starts, would the government or health care companies be willing to cover/reduce the cost of this to provide a healthier human race? That would be a huge step toward the future. No longer would we have to find a cure for cancer, we just have to stop it before it starts and it would be a cure for every type of cancer/disease.

  3. Steel, it could definitely turn into something like that in the future. That would be huge. The flip side though, which Jen brought up in an earlier post, is a genome sequence would reveal diseases/cancers without a cure, and then insurance companies may reject patients or jack up their insurance premiums because they are susceptible to disease.

  4. It really is amazing to see just how far technology has come with respect to DNA technology. It really blows my mind to think that this type of technology could become commercial in the next few years...

  5. That is awesome. This then comes back to the question of whether our information can be kept private. Carlos had a good post on ScanMein about how the Russians sell personal information on the black market. Our DNA info on the market? That could be real bad