October 06, 2008

$5,000 genome a year from now

The New York Times reports:
The cost of determining a person’s complete genetic blueprint is about to plummet again — to $5,000.

That is the price that a start-up company called Complete Genomics says it will start charging next year for determining the sequence of the genetic code that makes up the DNA in one set of human chromosomes. The company is set to announce its plans on Monday.


Then again, the cost of DNA sequencing has dropped by a factor of 10 every year for the last four years, a faster rate of decline than even for computers, Dr. Church said.


Complete Genomics will not offer a service to consumers. But it will provide sequencing for consumer-oriented companies like Knome.
This seems to be yet another reason for consumers not to go with autosomal testing at this time. 

Of course, cheap genome sequencing isn't enough to solve life's mysteries: it will take functional and developmental studies, that examine gene-gene and gene-environment interactions to achieve that goal, a process which will occupy biologists for decades to come. 

It seems clear that Genomics is rapidly moving towards a new era where "getting the data" won't be the major obstacle, but adding value to the data -in terms of interpretation and presentation- is. 

Even if you got your entire genome on a CD today, it wouldn't help you much, both because a lot of the science of "what it all means" hasn't happened yet, and because the information that has been produced by science is scattered in a large number of papers and repositories that can't be easily processed by regular people.

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