October 2, 2011

Full Genome Sequencing Cost Drop from $95m to $9500 to $95

Human full genome sequencing costs are falling rapidly from $95 million in 2001 to the current $9,500 per genome. When will full genome sequencing cost drop from $9,500 to $95? Or, put another way, cost as little as a blood test?

Cliff Reid of Complete Genomics makes his projections based on the cost of reagents, sequencing systems and compute. To paraphrase him

Cost of Reagents
Reduce the volume of reagents required to sequence each base.

Going from the current 700nm x 700nm x 50 um to the 250nm x 250 nm x 10 um will reduce sequencing costs by a factor of 40x, to $26 per genome.

Cost of Sequencing Instruments 
By using 15x faster cameras (to image the fluorescent molecules) than the current ones used in the instruments, the sequencing instrument cost will reduce by a factor of 30x, to $33 per genome.

Cost of Compute
Projecting using Moore’s law, the compute cost per genome will fall to $25 in five years.

Put all the costs together and, in a few years, you’ll have full genome sequencing done for about the cost of a blood test today.


In a visit to the doctor’s office a few years from now, your doctor can choose to analyze your full genome and then make the best health recommendations for you.

All this is with improvements in existing fluorescent technologies. Newer nanopore based and pico fluidics based technologies are coming which may have a further dramatic effect in reducing sequencing costs and speeding up sequencing times.