Health Inc.

Step Right Up And Get Your Genome Here

Though we're not convinced cataloging the contents of our genes is the greatest way to spend our money, it's sort of nice to know the price is dropping for a complete genome sequence.

A piece of DNA.

For just a few thousand bucks you can get the lowdown on your own DNA. DNA image/Wikimedia Commons hide caption

itoggle caption DNA image/Wikimedia Commons

A California company called Complete Genomics now says it can do a decent job of decoding a person's DNA for around $4,400, based on the cost of chemical supplies. Rougher versions cost less and better quality, as you might expect, ran a few thousand dollars more.

The results were published online by the journal Science.

As time goes on the price of decoding a genome should keep dropping, as it has for microchips and computer, because it's a technology game. A half-dozen years ago it cost about $300 million to sequence a person's genome, ScienceNOW notes. By 2007, the cost fell to $1 million and last year was about $60,000. And Complete Genomics expects to soon be able to race through a person's DNA in less than a day.

Right now, the inexpensive sequences from Complete Genomics are pretty good but not perfect, as the Nature blog the Great Beyond describes in detail for those of you who are interested. There could be as many as 30,000 errors per genome.

Still, the company's technology, explained here, is nifty and cheap enough to start finding some practical applications. Earlier this week, Complete Genomics announced a deal to sequence the genomes of 100 people in six months for a study of Huntington's disease with the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle.

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