The mythical "$1,000 genome" is almost upon us, said Jonathan Rothberg, CEO of sequencing technology company Ion Torrent, at MIT's Emerging Technology conference. If his prediction comes true, it will represent an astonishing triumph in rapid technological development. The rate at which genome sequencing has become more affordable is faster than Moore's law.
"By this time next year sequencing human genomes as fast and cheap as bacterial genome," said Rothberg. (Earlier, he'd commented that his company can now do an entire bacterial genome in about two hours.)
I was in the room on October 19 when he said it, and I would have thought it pure hubris were it not for Rothberg's incredible track record in this area, from founding successful previous-generation sequencing company 454 Life Sciences to recent breakthroughs made with the same technology he proposes will get us to the $1,000 genome.
This technology, called, called the Personal Genome Machine, is already being used to determine which mutations are present in the genomes of patients' cancers.