Local company says its technology will bring $100 gene sequencing

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego-based genomics equipment maker Illumina Inc. Monday announced the introduction of new technology that the company said could one day lower the price of genome sequencing to $100.

The NovaSeq platform, unveiled at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, is designed to be easy to use, flexible and have a low per- sample cost.

While there are many variables involved, it’s estimated that it currently costs around $1,000 for whole-genome sequencing. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, it cost $14 million to sequence one genome 10 years ago.

“We believe that future systems derived from the NovaSeq architecture we are launching today one day will enable the $100 genome and propel discoveries that will enable a deeper understanding and better treatments for complex disease,” said Francis deSouza, Illumina’s president and CEO.

“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. “By accelerating the trajectory of genomics with these systems, Illumina is making it possible to envision a future in which all people can benefit from precision medicine.”

Two NovaSeq sequencing products are expected to begin shipping this year — the first in about two months — and will be priced at $850,000 and $985,000, according to the company.