Convergence

How Life Technologies will sequence the human genome for $1,000 (video)

The biggest new healthcare product unveiled at CES this week was undoubtedly Life Technologies Corp.’s (NASDAQ:LIFE) new Ion Proton Sequencer, a bench-top machine that the company says will be able to sequence the entire human genome for $1,000 by the end of the year. (A side note: Illumina Inc. announced the release of a similar product at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference.)

For many years, the idea has been that the $1,000 genome would accelerate disease diagnosis and improve drug development, and allow for more personalized treatment.

Life Technologies’ Ion Proton Sequencer, which costs $149,000, is the machine that enables the sequencing. But the real innovation is in the chip inserted into the machine, Graham Scott from Life Technologies’ Ion Torrent unit says.

The company will first sell $1,000 chips that enable only exomes to be decoded by the machine, with the second-generation chip for sequencing the whole genome becoming available six months later.

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Customers that have already committed to purchasing the device include Baylor College of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine and Broad Institute. Upon the announcement, Life Technologies’ shares jumped 8.3 percent, their biggest single-day gain in three years.

In this video from CES, Scott describes how the technology that PC Magazine’s Dan Costa named “the coolest thing at CES” works.

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