GLR Update: In The Battle for Sequencing Supremacy, is 128 > $10,000?

hiseq_2000_The biggest industry developments last week were being announced at J.P. Morgan’s 28th Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The Genomics Law Report covered Illumina’s announcement of its new next-generation genomic sequencing machine (Another Stop on the Road to the $1,000 Genome), the HiSeq 2000, which promises to sequence an entire genome in one week for $10,000. Illumina’s $10,000 price point represents a new commercial sequencing benchmark, but it is unlikely to deter the company’s competitors. Those include sequencing-as-a-service provider Complete Genomics, which followed up Illumina’s announcement with one of its own, declaring that it plans to sequence up to one million human genomes worldwide over the next five years.

I’ve discussed previously the importance of analyzing just what you get when you purchase a whole-genome sequence. Illumina’s $10,000 genome does not include the cost of the machine or the necessary data analysis, whereas Complete Genomics offers human genome sequences starting at $20,000 while providing its own hardware and data analysis. However, as Matthew Herper of Forbes pointed out last week, the real number to pay attention to in Illumina’s announcement may have been 128—the number of new Illumina machines that BGI committed to buy—and not $10,000. As this recent survey of research labs by In Sequence suggests, current or so-called “second-generation” sequencing platforms, including the one utilized by the HiSeq 2000, continue to make inroads into sequencing centers worldwide, posing an obstacle to Complete Genomics and other newcomers attempting to crack the genomic sequencing space that might not be overcome on price alone.