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Getting to the $1K Milestone

Illumina announced at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference earlier this week that one of its new platforms, dubbed the HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System, could produce a human genome for $1,000.

Reaching this price point has been a long-desired goal as more affordable sequencing may herald widespread adoption of whole-genome sequencing and enable personalized medicine.

"It is a major human accomplishment on par with the development of the telescope or the microprocessor," Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Michael Schatz tells Nature News. "If there was any doubt to if genomics would ever be able to reach the everyday man, at this price point and efficiencies it is absolute certainty."

The HiSeq X Ten system uses patterned flow cells, bi-directional scanning, and a new polymerase. One unit — the system is being sold in sets of 10 for $10 million — can generate 600 gigabases of data a day, or the equivalent of five human genomes. The platform is only for human genome sequencing.

According to In Sequence, Flatley said that reagents would run about $800 per genome, the depreciated cost of the machine would be about $137 per genome, and sample prep range between $55 and $65 for each genome, totaling just about $1,000.

Mick Watson at Opiniomics says that the math is pretty good, if the center is sequencing 18,000 human genomes a year for four years on each system. This, he notes, is "a lot of human genomes." However, the figure does not include any bioinformatics or data interpretation.

"Realistically, I doubt that any of these systems will be able to run at anything near full capacity for some time," says Dan Koboldt at Mass Genomics. "There aren't enough physical samples to do so, and the limited application scope (human WGS) makes it even more complicated.

"Also, consider the data storage and informatics requirements!" he adds. "I'm equal parts excited and terrified about what this means for the future of next-gen sequencing."