Whole Genome Sequencing Costs Continue to Plummet – An Example of the Incredible ROI from Inve
This NYT article by John Markoff explains part of the story on why we are now sequencing entire genomes for hundreds of dollars, and why a full sequence will soon cost far less. For another part of the story, read here on Ion Torrent. The story brings home the power of science when coupled with great new devices coupled with massive computers sorting through massive amounts of data. Note, for example, the article’s point that new, industrial strength digital cameras will create a 10X increase in genome processing speed, allowing this company to sequence 100,000 genomes in year, instead of 10,000.
Sequencing genomes alone will not drive all the answers we need. There is more to be done to correlate original DNA with environmentally-induced changes to the epigenetic system that regulates the actual function of DNA – those changes are part of the development of cancers and other diseases. But scientists today are light years ahead of 10 years ago, and will move further and faster if government budgets are preserved for investment in the fundamental research that drives molecular biology.
Investing in fundamental research is key. Society did well from investing in the race to the moon. Far more benefits will flow from investing in understanding our complex bodies. The original race to sequence one genome cost $ 3.8 billion, and is calculated to have generated 310,000 jobs, not to mention knowledge gained or lives saved. And, as pointed out by the article, the genome sequencing business and science are racing forward at an even faster pace.