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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

The $1,000 Genome Really Has Arrived – A Decade Ago It Cost $3.8 Billion

Illumina is the world leader in sequencing genes. From 1988-2003, the government-sponsored Human Genome Project blazed a wonderful trail that took about a decade, and it cost about $3.8 billion to produce one sequence of one genome. Craig Venter and others added massively to the trail-blazing. The return on investment has been extraordinary in terms of changing science and lives. In addition, the HGP produced exponential financial returns. Since then, gene sequencing science has raced forward, powered by investment in really smart and dedicated people and global collaborations, plus massive advances in computing power and software and molecular biology tools and techniques.

Yesterday, Illumina announced the arrival of sequencing a genome for $1,000. In hours. So, in about decade, we’ve gone from the $3.8 billion genome to the $1,000 genome. Imagine what’s ahead. For some catalysts, consider a story here in Forbes. Or, consider some key excerpts from Illumina’s press release, set out below.

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 14, 2014– Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) today broke the ‘sound barrier’ of human genomics by enabling the $1,000 genome. This achievement is made possible by the new HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System. This platform includes dramatic technology breakthroughs that enable researchers to undertake studies of unprecedented scale by providing the throughput to sequence tens of thousands of human whole genomes in a single year in a single lab. Initial customers for the transformative HiSeq X Ten System include Macrogen, a global next-generation sequencing service organization based in Seoul, South Korea and its CLIA laboratory in Rockville, Maryland, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the world’s leading research institute in genomic medicine, and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, a world leader in biomedical research.

“For the first time, it looks like it will be possible to deliver the $1,000 genome, which is tremendously exciting,” said Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute and a professor of biology at MIT. “The HiSeq X Ten should give us the ability to analyze complete genomic information from huge sample populations. Over the next few years, we have an opportunity to learn as much about the genetics of human disease as we have learned in the history of medicine.”


Added Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina, “With the HiSeq X Ten, we’re delivering the $1,000 genome, reshaping the economics and scale of human genome sequencing, and redefining the possibilities for population-level studies in shaping the future of healthcare. The ability to explore the human genome on this scale will bring the study of cancer and complex diseases to a new level. Breaking the ‘sound barrier’ of human genetics not only pushes us through a psychological milestone, it enables projects of unprecedented scale. We are excited to see what lies on the other side.

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