by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted February 11, 2008 in DNA Inventions and Gadgets, DNA Testing, DNA in General
One of the cheapest going prices for whole human genome sequencing has been set by Illumina at $100,000 with completion time of less than four weeks. Last year, 454 Life Sciences claimed a complete sequence in two months at around $1 million.
While Illumina and 454 Life Sciences (Roche) are considered by some to be leaders of the pack, Dr. Jonathan Eisen of The Tree of Life says competitors are emerging, including ABI and Helicos. Helicos BioSciences has received its first order for the Helicos Genetic Analysis System that includes HeliScope Single Molecule Sequencer, the HeliScope Analysis Engine, and the HeliScope Sample Loader.
Even as sequencing becomes cheaper and more efficient, Dr. Eisen reminds us of two considerations: data management and analysis as well as linking gene sequence to function. Writing from the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in Marco Island, FL, Dr. Eisen:
Function and process have been replaced by terms like “systems biology” and “SNPs” and “networks” and “massively parallel.” We have in a way regressed in terms of treating organisms (or communities) as a black box. Fine scale detail has been lost in a sea of data.
Regardless, the big race now is towards the $1,000 genome and the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics. The first team to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for $10,000 or less per genome will win $10 million.
To aid in the sequencing of genomes, Pacific Biosciences aka PacBio is developing a “transformative DNA sequencing platform.” Their machines can read more bases at one go than others.
PacBio – 1,000+ bases
Human Genome Project – 800+ bases
Illumina – 30-50 bases
454 Life Sciences – 200 to 450 bases
PacBio expects to begin selling machines in 2010 with second-generation machines that can perform $1,000 whole genome sequencing available in 2013. The New York Times has a profile of the company and their technology (Dr. Eisen has more). Other companies mentioned were Intelligent Bio-Systems, NABsys, VisiGen Biotechnologies, and Complete Genomics.
Although the â€œ$1,000 genomeâ€ is a purely arbitrary goal, itâ€™s become a Holy Grail of sorts for the genomics field. (The startup Knome, which we covered here, currently offers full-genome sequencing for $350,000.) Cheap, fast sequencing of all six billion DNA â€œletters,â€ or bases, in humans could make it possible, for instance, for doctors to better tailor treatments to a patientâ€™s own genetic quirks or to identify the specific weaknesses of tumor cells. More broadly, it would also vastly increase our understanding of the genome, which has turned out to be a much more mysterious realm than just about anyone expected only a decade ago, and illuminate the ways DNA varies between individuals, groups and even among cells and tissues within a single individual.
There’s obviously a lot of DNA sequencing going on and it’s not limited to the US. Medical Solutions has become the UK’s first commercial provider of Illumina’s DNA sequencing and genotyping platforms – Genome Analyzer and Infinium on the BeadStation platform, respectively.
NB: Jonathan Eisen, David Hamilton, Misha Angrist, and I are all members of The DNA Network .
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