From fantasy to fact? Personal Genomics, tipping points and a personal perspective:
But now I think we’ve turned a corner. It feels, to mix metaphors, that we’ve hit a tipping point. The Human genome project, the mapping and sequencing of the/a human genome from 1990 to 2003, cost approximately 2,700,000,000 dollars (that’s 2.7 billion, I wanted to get all the zeros in). Celera did the genome for 300,000,000. The cost of sequencing an entire human genome has been plummeting ever since. In 2007, the cost of sequencing the genome of James Watson (co-discoverer of DNA) was about 2,000,000. The today cost is about 10,000. Complete Genomics and other companies are on the march to quickly reducing the cost of sequencing a genome under 1,000.
So, within a year, the cost of sequencing your, my, genome will reach 1,000. If not less. We’ve seen this coming for years now, and it’s upon us. But what does it mean? A lot of data. But data means nothing without context and analysis. Sequencing my genome would be a waste of 1,000 dollars if I gleaned nothing from it.
I can believe that we’ll be able to get a tarball with our own full sequence for a reasonable price in a few years. Cheaper than orthodontia and cosmetic surgery even. Though the utility in prevention and treatment is a different matter. Most people already have a treasure trove of data through family history, and that doesn’t seem to change behavior for many in the short-term. Once the magical power of genomics wears off I suspect that knowing you have variant X with risk Y will be less transformative than not.