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Knome Lowers Price of Full Genome From $350,000 to $99,000

imageI’ve talked about the personal genomics company Knome here at TGG a number of times.  The company is one of the few, if not only, entity offering customers the opportunity to receive their entire genomic sequence.  After paying for sequencing, customers receive their genetic sequence on an 8-gigabyte USB drive in an engraved silver box.  The USB is encrypted and contains special genome browsing software (KnomeXplorer).

The Cost of Sequencing Crashes

According to an article at MSN Money entitled “$99,000 to see your future?,” Knome recently lowered the price of sequencing from $350,000 to $99,000.  This isn’t very surprising considering how quickly the cost of sequencing is dropping.

From the article:

“Just to give you some context, the U.S. government finished sequencing the first genome in 2003, and it took 13 years and about $3 billion,” says Jorge Conde, the 31-year-old CEO of Knome. “We’re now at the point that we can do it for $99,000 in three months. Our goal is to eventually be able to offer this to a large segment of the population for around $1,000.” (Just a year ago, Knome was asking $350,000 for its services.)

The article also suggests that 95% of the $99,000 is for non-sequencing services:

Knome hopes more customers will sign up for its pricey, personalized service — and with good reason. George Church, the head of the Personal Genome Project at Harvard, says that the actual cost of physically mapping a genome is currently only about $5,000.  “Knome is adding a considerable amount of value in the form of security, personalized interpretation, presentation and education,” he says.

In addition to the sequencing information, the USB drive & silver box, and the software, customers also takes part in a “genomics roundtable” to meet with geneticists and other professionals to learn more about genomics and their own genome.  Even so, $94,000 seems a little pricey for this additional information.  I’m surprised that Church revealed the actual cost of the sequencing, but I’m encouraged by the incredibly low price.

A $1,000 Genome by December 31, 2009?

I’ve predicted that I will be able to purchase genome sequencing for $1,000 or less by December 31, 2009.  Think I’ll make it?

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

10 Comments

  1. Hey Blaine,

    Knome dropped its price to $100,000 late last year.

    As for a $1000 retail genome this year, I think it might be a stretch. Complete Genomics will be offering a sequence for around $5000 within a couple of months, but that won’t be offered direct-to-consumer – Knome has been in discussions with Complete about using their service, but you can expect them to add at least another few thousand dollars mark-up to cover the non-trivial costs of interpretation.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that the quality of current sequencing technologies leaves much to be desired – the top-of-the-line second-generation sequencing platforms are unable to sequence around 10-15% of the genome (due to its highly repetitive nature), and also have a high false positive rate: Complete Genomics estimates its current technology will introduce somewhere in the realm of 80,000 false positive variants per genome.

    There are still companies in stealth mode that might leap out with a high-quality $1000 genome by the end of the year, but at this stage I’m expecting to buy my own genome somewhere in mid- to late-2010.

  2. Daniel – My best guess is that you’re correct; it’s not looking good for a DTC $1,000 genome by Dec. 31 (even a low-quality sequence). I knew when I made that prediction 2 years ago, however, that the often repeated prediction of “5 to 10 years” was way off.

    By the way, did you see the recent news that Complete Genomics has been making cutbacks? I wonder how that will affect future development and price reductions for Complete (and other cutting-edge sequencing companies).

  3. Heh – coincidentally, I posted on Complete’s cut-backs yesterday, albeit very briefly. The current financial crisis is one of the major reasons why I’m predicting my own genome sequence won’t be affordable until perhaps late 2010.

    Complete’s woes illustrate just now incredibly difficult it is to get hold of venture capital these days. I don’t expect the well-established sequencing providers to be hit too hard by this, but it will probably have a stifling effect on up-and-coming innovators in the industry over the next one to two years.

    I’m guessing both Complete Genomics and Pac Bio will still launch as predicted, and we’ll definitely see some huge improvements in established sequencing technologies (e.g. Illumina looks to be on track to be able to generate a high-quality 30X human genome sequence in a single instrument run for perhaps $10-20,000 by end-2009). Still, the NEXT generation of techs – the ones that will realistically take us down to a $1000 retail genome – may well end up being substantially delayed. :-(

  4. This number HAS to have been taken OUT OF CONTEXT… Just under $100K is about right for a high quality whole genome sequence today, plus interpretation, etc.

  5. You can either wait untill it’s cheap and the market has saturated or you can buy it now and plause with the riches. In my opinion, it’s way over priced!

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