The emerging consumer genetics industry held its first convention-style show last week in Boston. We've been hearing much ado about this field for two years. This may be a sign that - for better or worse - the fledgling industry is coming of age.
At the Consumer Genetics Show, the big announcement was that Illumina - a company previously dedicated to genetics laboratory equipment - is launching a personal complete genome sequencing service. Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future has a good description of the service. What strikes me is its $48,000 price tag. While that's still high enough to be out of reach of almost all Americans, the rate of price decline is astonishing. The human genome project during the 1990's cost three billion dollars. Last year, the company Knome - a spinoff of George Church's personal genome project - was charging $350,000. This year it lowered its price to $99,000. The fabled $1000 genome appears to be only a matter of two or three years away.
Consumer genome sequencing raises a host of concerns, and its widespread use would only magnify those (1, 2, 3, 4). The federal Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act addressed one of these: The potential for employers or insurers to discriminate based on genetic information. The California state Senate is considering a bill to address, among other things, some privacy concerns. Hopefully that piece of legislation will be a vehicle for consumer - not corporate - protection.
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in Biotech & Pharma, Jesse Reynolds's Blog Posts, Personal genomics
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