Cost of DNA sequence is dropping like it’s hot.
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in the US has compiled information on the cost of DNA sequencing. It’s worth noting that the cost scale on these graphs use a logarithmic scale, so even the first part that appears as a straight line is still showing an accelerating change in price. Then around 2007/08 the price drops incredibly sharply. That’s thought to be due to second generation techniques like these.
Third generation techniques are constantly being researched, with both the NHGRI and the X Prize Foundation both promoting new research in the field. The X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the “first Team that can build a device and use it to sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less… at a cost of no more than $10,000 per genome).
We are entering an era where is may soon be possible to anyone in a first world nation to have their genome sequenced. The problem now is what to do with that information. It’s been pointed out that if you don’t know what the 342,345,648th base pair of your genome does, you shouldn’t really care if it’s reading A, C, T or G.
What’s needed now are large databases comparing genes with medical problems. This work is already being done by universities and even insurance companies who hope to use it towards health insurance. As these databases are built up it should become clear as to which genetic markers cause which diseases, but with around 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, that’s going to take a pretty smart computer to work it out.