Science Scope

Expect a $1,000 genome by next year

Posting in Cancer

Ion Torrent's CEO Jonathan Rothberg says to expect the $1,000 genome by 2012. Instead of using conventional wet chemistry to sequence DNA, Ion Torrent's DNA machine uses computer chips for a faster, cheaper read.

By next year, sequencing the human genome will be done in two hours and will cost $1,000, Ion Torrent's Jonathan Rothberg said at a recent conference.

Think about that thousand dollar price tag for a minute. That's cheap, considering the first human genome cost $3 billion to complete. As companies race to crack the $1,000 genome, contending DNA machines in the marketplace suggest an end is near.

Ion Torrent's DNA machine reads sequences based on chemicals and electronic technology.

The technology is called the Personal Genome Machine and it has been used to determine the source of E. coli or mutations present in the genomes of patients' cancers. The Ion Personal Genome Machine, which is about the size of a desktop computer, uses chemistry and semiconductor technology to produce readouts of genetic information in a couple of hours.

Christopher Mims wrote in Technology Review:

"Right now don't have very many correlations between those 3 billion base pairs [of the human genome] and outcomes or medicines," says Rothberg. He predicts it will take at least 10 years of clinical experiments with full genome sequencing to get us to the point where we can begin to unlock its value.

"And it will be 20 years before we understand cancer at same level as HIV and can come up with combinations of medicine [tailored] for each individual," says Rothberg.

Earlier this year, I went to Ion Torrent to find out how the DNA sequencing machine uses computer technology to deliver fast results.

The company's VP Maneesh Jain told me:

via Christopher Mims on Technology Review

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure