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Sequencing Slowdown

It's a slide that shows up in a number of genomics presentations: a graphic from the US National Human Genome Research Institute compares the cost of DNA sequencing to Moore's Law, and it is often used to illustrate the deep and continuing drop of the cost of sequencing over time.

But Neil Hall from the University of Liverpool notes in Genome Biology that in an updated version of the graph, the cost of sequencing is shown to have increased between April 2012 and October 2012 by $717. "But, as with all exponential trends in ecosystems or economies, the party always has to come to an end," he writes.

At his blog Opiniomics, Mick Watson delves into the rate of change by examining the change in price as a proportion of the original price, which he graphs. "The story is that yes, sequencing costs are coming down; but since late 2007, early 2008 the rate of change of that reduction has been following an upwards trend, i.e. over time, the reduction in cost from one period to the next has been increasing," he notes.

In his Genome Biology commentary, Hall also suggests that such a change in fortune should spark genomics researchers to re-think their experiments and to re-evaluate the idea that cheap genomes will soon be flooding into the clinic. "I for one am more excited by a world where, instead of chasing bigger numbers and deeper coverage, we invest more resources into exploring the true potential of the technology that we currently have," Hall adds. "And if we stop looking for a new technology on the horizon, maybe one will turn up."