The $1,000 genome could actually be here

People want to know what their genes mean for their current and future health. And researchers want more people to reveal their genome because it helps them better understand the significance of DNA anomalies, helping to improve the analytics that make sense of a gene sequence.

Given that a full sequencing generally currently costs $10,000, and gene tests can be patented, most genetic tests are currently limited to a small assortment of interesting genes, which may or may not be actual health indicators. As a result, tests like 23andMe have been scrutinized for their accuracy.

Lowering the cost of full gene sequencing could spur more people to pursue one and, as a result, provide researchers with the data they need to sort out the real interesting genes. Illumina, a San Diego life science tool developer, released a sequencing machine today that it says is capable of bringing the price down to $1,000.

Illumina gene sequencing machine

“To figure out cancer, we need to sequence hundreds of thousands of cancer genomes, and this is the way to do it,” Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said at a San Francisco investors conference today, according to Businessweek. “This will be a blockbuster product.”

Dubbed the HiSeq X, each machine can sequence tens of thousands of genomes a year by handling more data at once. The higher yield is responsible for the potential price drop. The machine costs $1 million and will ship in the first quarter of 2014. Illumina also revealed a more modest $250,000 machine meant to fit in a lab that is available now.

The genetics industry set its sights on the $1,000 sequencing when the human genome was first mapped in the early 2000s. It’s not a surprise that a company is now stating they’ve hit the milestone; last year, an X Prize meant to encourage teams to develop cheaper genomes was canceled due to the incredibly fast pace at which the price was dropping.