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it believes it will get the samples it needs to get the work done. The Institute for Systems Biology has run into delays gathering enough human samples, partly because it’s not a medical center with direct control over its own patient samples—meaning it needs to corral a far-flung group of researchers to contribute their samples. “It just took longer to pull together,” Reid said on a conference call with analysts. “It’s the normal ebb and flow of the research process.” The ISB has enough money to pay for the sequencing jobs, Reid added.
Complete Genomics, which went public last November, is being watched closely as one of emerging competitors in the sequencing business, particularly as one with the ambitious goal of being the first company to sequence 1 million complete human genomes. It is seeking to take advantage of extreme leaps forward in speed and cost-efficiency of sequencing, while also carving out a new business model to perform sequencing as a service, rather than selling instruments to researchers who do the work themselves—the model followed by competitors like San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE).
[Updated and corrected with number of genomes needed for discount pricing. It’s 50 genomes, not 15.] Complete Genomics started the year offering its service for about $10,000 per genome. It now has brought the price down to $5,000 on orders of less than 50 genomes, $4,000 per genome for orders of more than 50 genomes, and it offers further significant discounts for bigger orders, chief financial officer Ajay Bansal said on today’s conference call.
The two new orders reported on today were “hotly competitive,” and price was an important factor, along with quality of the data, Reid said. The orders came from the National Cancer Institute’s SAIC-Frederick operation, and Inova Health System, a Virginia-based hospital network. The NCI contract is designed to look for differences in the genomes of tumor samples and normal biological samples, while Inova is using the technique for a long-term study to look at the genomes of premature infants and their parents. The Inova contract is particularly significant, Reid said, because it’s one of the early adopters seeking to incorporate genome sequencing into medical practice, not just basic laboratory research.
More new customers will become interested in complete human genome sequencing as the price comes down, Reid said. The company expects the price of the average sequence to stabilize over the coming year, and that complete genomes will cost about $3,000 by the end of 2012.
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