A Timeline of Steep Fall in Human Genome Sequencing Costs

DNA sequencing costs are typically compared on the basis of the cost of determining one mega base of DNA sequence and the cost of human-sized genome sequencing. The primary reasons for a change in pricing is largely due to the next generation DNA sequencing technologies that have opened up the floodgates for sequencing at costs that are a fraction of the costs a decade ago.

Here it is important to understand the difference in sequencing – that is, ‘production’ activities which are related to the generation of voluminous DNA sequence data for use in public databases; and ‘non-production’ activities.  ‘Production’ costs have significantly reduced largely as a result of the sequencing technologies, instruments, and informatics activities such as data processing and lab information management. Other costs have more or less remained the same, and it is the reduction in technological costs that has contributed to the reduced genome sequencing cost and lower exome sequencing costs.

Three different milestones to understand the fall in prices

In the year 2000, when the first human genome sequence was generated, it cost roughly $300 million. A decade ago, the costs towards generating a human sequence genome was around $15 million. Presently the costs towards generating a human sequence genome hovers around $1000. The difference in terms of percentage is mind boggling and strikingly this has been achieved in a span of less than two decades. This has been made entirely possible as a result of the emerging technologies that have slashed the time and effort required for the sequencing and computing.

As a consequence of the slashed genome sequencing costs, researchers now find it easier and inexpensive to understand more about genetic variations that make people special and different. It contributes to the development of preventive and personalized medicine.

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