Complete Genomics has made some heavy predictions about the number of whole genome sequences it will complete in the next five years, so you know we have to keep tabs on them and see if they’re going to live up to their claims. According to a recent press release, CG has increased the number of current customers from around 10 to more than 30. These new customers include the University of North Carolina, the Institute of Cancer Research UK, the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, and many others. With all the new business CG has booked orders exceeding 500 whole genome sequences. That’s a pretty good step towards achieving their goal of 5000 WGS for 2010. While Complete Genomics still has a long way to go before it will hit the 5k or the 1 million mark, this new round of orders is good evidence that they’re becoming the dominant force for sequencing whole human genomes.
Right now, the vast majority of whole genome sequences are used for genetic research. The Institute for Systems Biology ordered 100 genomes from CG, and now Pfizer and VIB are following suit (for unspecified amounts). You’ll notice other new customers listed above are also research institutions. That reflects where the field of genetics is at the moment: there are a few gene therapies available, but mostly we’re still just trying to understand the details of our DNA.
Eventually, however, that will change. At some point our genetic code will be researched enough that we can make powerful conclusions about physical health based solely on a genetic test. Already, we’ve got plenty of personal DNA testing services that will look at small portions of your genes for some valuable (but limited) insights. We’ll soon reach a day when medical treatments will work best if doctors have access to your whole genome. Then everyone will feel a large pressure to get sequenced. By specializing in only human genome sequencing, Complete Genomics has been able to increase their production and decrease their costs. Hopefully that trend will continue. Right now, CG is the cheapest sequencer, providing bulk orders at about $5000 per WGS. When that drops below $1000 many individuals will start to get tested outside of research institutions. When the cost drops below $100 or even $1…it may take years but some day whole genome sequencing will be as common as taking your temperature. Complete Genomics looks like the most likely candidate to get us there.
[image credit: Complete Genomics]