The scramble to come up with a faster and cheaper way to sequence a genome just got a credible new contender which aims to do the job for the bargain basement rate of $30.
The first time scientists sequenced a human genome, the price tag hit $3 billion. That price point has quickly plunged to about $20,000, putting sequencing genomes for the purposes of drug discovery work within the reach of biopharma companies. But this new company, a spinoff from Harvard University dubbed GnuBio, says the trick to bringing sequencing within reach of most people on the planet revolves around deciphering fragments of DNA from droplets streaming through a tiny tube.
John Boyce, a veteran of Helicos, has joined with Harvard physics professor Dave Weitz and Jessica Tonani, formerly of Affymetrix, to launch the company. Initially, the company plans to ship machines that can accomplish small sequencing tasks before it launches new technology that can handle the full sequencing task. The nonprofit Ignite Institute and the Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenemics Centre from the University of Montreal are first in line to receive a machine at the end of this year.
"I think what we're seeing now is the most breathtaking advances... that we've seen in genomics at least in the time period I've been involved in the field,'' Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, tells the Boston Globe. "What's remarkable about it is not so much that there's one new technology... [There are] technologies some that are on the ground, some that are about to land, and some that are out there a couple years away--each one exciting for different reasons.''
ALSO: Illumina is dropping the price of individual genome sequencing from $48,000 to $19,500. Report