A wad of $100 bills

$1,000 genome

Getting your genome sequenced is rapidly becoming more affordable

Sequencing is constantly getting cheaper. Illumina, a company that makes sequencing machines used in many of the large genome-sequencing centres, now claims it can generate a whole human genome sequence for around $1,000 (although to get near this cost requires a combination of ten machines, each priced at $1 million). LIFE Technologies sells sequencing machines that sequence faster than Illumina’s, but they can’t match the cost per genome.

Other companies, such as Oxford Nanopore, are testing machines based on newer single-molecule approaches that detect individual strands of DNA. These will drive the costs still lower.

Today, most people who have their genomes sequenced do it for research purposes, and many don’t get to see the results. But soon people may be able to afford to pay to get their genomes sequenced. In healthcare, cheaper sequencing of human genomes is paving the way for the routine use of genomics in medicine. The UK government is already preparing for that to happen in the NHS through Genomics England and its 100,000 genomes project.

Lead image:

401K 2012/Flickr


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Genes, Genomes and Health’ in January 2010 and reviewed and updated in December 2014.

Genetics and genomics, Biotechnology and engineering
Genes, Genomes and Health
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development