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Complete Genomics CEO on Cancer Sequencing

Over at Xconomy, Luke Timmerman speaks with Complete Genomics CEO Cliff Reid about the firm's ramped-up efforts to draw in cancer researchers to use its sequencing services. For its standard $10,000 fee, Timmerman says, Complete Genomics will sequence tumor and normal samples from cancer patients and, in addition, perform initial computational analyses of copy-number and structural variations "at no extra cost." In a nutshell, Timmerman says, once a researcher sends a patient's tumor biopsy and normal blood samples, Complete Genomics performs the sequencing, "assembles the raw data, and highlights the variations it sees compared to public reference genomes, and identifies which variants are known to be associated with disease" before uploading that information to Amazon Web Services' remote cloud computing servers. The researcher can then access and download the data online to perform their own analysis. So far, Complete Genomics has signed up 35 customers for its cancer sequencing service. According to Reid, the company is now capable of sequencing as many as 400 genomes a month — "or roughly 5,000 through all of 2011," Timmerman adds. Reid says he expects that once the average cost-per-genome drops below $10,000, the sequencing market will expand. Reid adds that once the cost of sequencing whole genomes drops below the price tag for BRCA1 and BRCA2 diagnostic tests — which are currently around $3,000 — sequencing will become a "ubiquitous medical tool."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.