Genomics company Illumina unveiled a machine that can sequence a human genome for $1,000. The machine, named HiSeq X, hits a once-elusive benchmark but won't be available to the general population for some time.
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The biotech industry has been trying to reach the $1,000 genome mark for years. It's a figure that should make full genome sequencing much more mainstream. As more people get sequenced, researchers get more data to use in their analysis of how DNA variations manifest themselves in diseases. The high-speed, low-cost sequencing system arrives at a crucial time, with a number of biotech companies, research centers, and hospitals starting to show real clinical breakthroughs. "To figure out cancer, we need to sequence hundreds of thousands of cancer genomes, and this is the way to do it," Flatley said.
About a decade ago it cost much more than $1 billion to sequence a human genome, and the process took months. Illumina's new machine can knock out dozens of genomes in about a day. The HiSeq X systems, which cost $1 million each, should end up at large research centers and will be sold in groups of 10. Illumina has unveiled a smaller, $250,000 system called the NextSeq 500, which can fit on a laboratory counter and handle one genome at a time.
Kenneth Beckman, director of the Biomedical Genomics Centers at the University of Minnesota, calls next-generation sequencing "the killer app of genomics."
He joins The Daily Circuit along with Businessweek's Ashlee Vance to discuss what this new development means for health care and what else we can expect from biotechnology advances.