The Intel of sequencing

Credit: Forbes
Credit: Forbes

Matt Herper’s piece in Forbes, Flatley’s Law: How One Company Is Creating Medicine’s Genetic Revolution, is a must read. Here’s the conclusion:

It’s hard to disagree with him. The cost of sequencing a human being’s DNA is less than one-hundred-thousandth of what it was when Flatley started running Illumina 14 years ago. Illumina is hoping to lower the price further. Ronaghi, the CTO, says the market has been disrupted every time the cost of sequencing has dropped by five to ten times. He foresees DNA sequencers that might cost $10,000, as compared with $250,000 for Illumina’s midline models, opening up whole new markets–and cures. Says Flatley: “The road maps that we have are pretty breathtaking as far as where the technology can move in the next three to five years.”

As narrated in the piece competiters have tried to take Illumina down a notch since 2008, and failed. So you don’t want to bet against them. That being said its dominance is having an effect on the famous chart of “cost per genome” decline. With the stabilization of the monopoly prices haven’t really dropped much since 2012. It might take a full frontal assault by a credible competiter like Oxford Nanopore to induce more than incremental change on the margins.

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