In 2012, genomics tiptoed into the doctor’s office, gene therapy rose again, and man and machine united.
By Susan Young
Why: Many doctors and researchers lack the resources to sequence genomes and analyze them themselves.
Key innovation: Sells sequencing as a service, analyzing DNA samples that customers send in.
Complete Genomics makes machines that can sequence whole human genomes quickly and cheaply, thanks in part to a new way of packing DNA onto specially fabricated arrays with unprecedented density. The company has also developed a highly accurate system for reading the sequence that doesn't require high concentrations of expensive reagents.
The declining cost per genome of today's sequencing technology means that the number of human genomes that have been sequenced will rise from a handful to 30,000 by the end of this year. Complete Genomics just signed a contract to deliver over 600 genome sequences for the Institute for Systems Biology in a study on neurogenerative diseases.
With a new genome sequencing center that it opened last spring, Complete Genomics now gives research organizations the option of completely outsourcing their sequencing needs rather than having to invest in a machine and in the computational resources to handle the data. The company is continuing to drive down its costs from $5,000 per genome today to what it hopes will be the first $1,000 genome in the next few years.
Challenges and Next Steps:
Although it is still in its early stages, complete genome sequencing has yet to make good on its promise to revolutionize medicine. If the pharmaceutical companies that Complete Genomics is targeting with its service fail to achieve tangible results based on genomic research, the market for its service may not be as big as once predicted.