Biomedicine Update – Mapping the Genome is Getting Cheaper by the Day

The cost of DNA sequencing is going down rapidly making mapping the genome within the next decade almost as inexpensive as a routine blood workup. Current DNA sequencing tests cost, at their cheapest, about $5,000. Ion Torrent, a company founded by Jonathan Rothberg, a chemical engineer, has technology almost go-to-market ready that will drop the cost to $1,000 and provide a complete sequenced genome in 2 hours.

DNA sequencing using advances in chip technology is driving down the cost. The Ion Proton II stores 3.2 Gigabytes of data making it possible to do a full-genome sequence in 2 hours. Source: Ion Torrent

In the March 2012 issue of Popular Science, in the article, “The Next Sequence,” Jennifer Abbasi describes work being done at IBM to develop a $100 sequencer, a chip that uses nanotechnology to read DNA. At $100 a test, DNA sequencing will be open to millions of patients.

Of course sequencing an individual’s DNA is not in itself a method for curing disease. It is sequencing of a group of patients with a common disease that can lead to finding the “smoking gun” within the genetic sequence.


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...

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  • Mike Lublinski

    From an individual’s perspective, why would someone want to sequence an individual’s DNA? Does it reveal anything about unknown likely conditions?

    • The sequencing of an individual’s DNA has benefits. It is a digital roadmap of who you are and can be shared with medical professionals to help them with diagnosis and treatment. If you were to become ill and the disease was known to have potential genetic cause then your DNA could be compared to others to find a match for the sequencing causal link.

      I carry around a blood donor card that indicates my blood type. In the future we may carry around a smarth health card that includes our DNA sequences along with the rest of our electronic health record. It will plug in to a device like the PIN card readers used in supermarkets and ATMs today and your DNA sequence and medical history will be instantly accessible.

  • Reblogged this on Rashid's Blog.