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First Working $1,000 Human Genome Sequencer Unveiled

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 11:45 AM EST

According to Illumina Inc, the $1,000 human genome sequencer has debuted. The genome sequencer dubbed HiSeq X has been designed to process 20,000 genomes a year that will cost $1,000 each. 

The machine was introduced recently at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. health-care conference in San Francisco. Customers and other large research center will be receiving the machine by this quarter. 

"To figure out cancer, we need to sequence hundreds of thousands of cancer genomes, and this is the way to do it," said Jay Flatley, Illumina's chief executive officer, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The sequencers have been made after reading out the genetic make-up of people, animals, plants and tumors. If more of these sequences are provided to scientists, they will be able to understand better about the underlying causes of the traits and medical conditions like cancer. 

The discovery is being considered a breakthrough in the industry as 10 years ago the same cost $1 billion with processing time to months. 

The sequencers HiSeq X systems will be sold in groups of 10, each costing $1 million. The company has even disclosed its first customers that include Macrogen, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. 

Two years ago, another company called Ion Torrent also reported that it had a machine capable of the $1,000 genome but due to technical glitches it was unable to launch in the market. 

"We expect it to be out in 2014," said Ron Andrews, the president of genetic and medical sciences at Life Technologies that acquired Ion Torrent, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. "We still have a team working on it, but it is not the ultimate goal. I think the reality is there are bigger and more urgent business opportunities than the $1,000 genome."

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