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Illumina's new machine may bring the cost of genome sequencing to under $100

The cost to sequence your genome might soon be cheaper than a night out in New York City. Illumina — a DNA sequencing company — unveiled a machine called the NovaSeq at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference this week, reports TechCrunch, and with it the company hopes to bring the price of sequencing down to less than $100.

To put that into perspective, it cost about $2.7 billion and 13 years to sequence the first full human genome back in 2003. Illumina’s CEO, Frank deSouza, told the conference crowd that NovaSeq could do the job in under an hour.

Illumina has been cutting the cost of sequencing since it emerged on the scene in 2006 with a machine that could sequence a human genome for $300,000. A decade later, it announced it could do the same work for $1,000. Now it claims it will decrease the price tenfold more.

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And these prices aren’t just for research institutions — a number of DNA sequencing companies, including the popular 23andMe, use Illumina’s machines. As the process gets cheaper and faster for these companies, it will of course also get less expensive for you and me.

“The NovaSeq Systems enable the study of genetic links between health and disease at an unprecedented scale by making it possible to sequence more samples at greater depth and take on projects that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive,” deSouza said in a press release.

To be sure, Illumina’s new machine won’t exactly be inexpensive. The two models, NovaSeq 5000 and NovaSeq 6000, are expected to cost $850,000 and $985,000 respectively. But deSouza said six companies have already placed orders for the new machines, including the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.