Export of More Efficient Genome Sequencing Technology


The generation of DNA sequencing machines used in sequencing the human genome were fastidious, expensive, and fairly bulky. The Harvard Medical School lab of George Church pioneered a novel approach featuring much simpler instrumentation. The cleverness resides in designs for the front end DNA treatment and extensive parallelism of analysis. For commercial development, the technology has recently been purchased by the Applera Corp. An Applera subsidiary, Celera Genomics Inc., previously sequenced the human and mouse genomes in competition with public sector efforts. This commercialization promises easier export of the resources to other laboratories though the constituent steps are technically simple. The Church approach is one of several competitors for much cheaper and highly parallelized DNA sequencing technologies. These are applicable to either sequencing of single genes sampled across a large population, or to much cheaper sequencing of single genomes. For the DOE GTL Genomics Program, these approaches promise to drastically reduce DNA sequencing costs, both for new genomes and for verifying the sequence of useful recombinant constructs. One goal of these new approaches is to achieve re-sequencing of the human genome at a target cost of $1,000, at which genome sequence could become an affordable component of individualized medicine. A prize of at least $500,000 awaits the organization first achieving this goal.