The $1,000 Genome Debate

Is the $1,000 genome going to happen or not? Mathew Herper writes a post for Forbes in January 2011 titled “Why You Can’t Have Your $1,000 Genome” In his post  he states “Great idea, but it may never happen, especially when we are talking about genomics in medicine. Research costs are dropping, but doctors will need better quality data and analysis…More important, the health care system tends to charge not what things cost but what they’re worth.”

A week ago I attended the Xconomy event: “Computing in the Age of the $1,00 Genome.”  EMC subsidiary Isilon Systems was even generous enough to give all attendees of the conference a copy of the book The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized MedicineCliff Reid of Complete Genomics not only expressed the certainty of the $1,000 genome, but predicted the cost would go much lower and the consumer demand would reach the millions in a few short years. The anchor panelist of the event was world-renowned geneticist Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology. His view was that the low cost genome is one thing, but the analytics and intelligence needed to make use of that genome are altogether another thing. Bob Nelson of Arch Ventures commented correctly that one of the key the challenges is delivering the value from the genetic innovation out to physicians. Today the market does not possess an efficient mechanism for distributing education, analytics and decision support to the provider market. To say it’s fragmented is an understatement. Couple that challenge with the massive FDA bureaucracy required to get new treatments to market and you have a recipe for failure. This is precisely why venture funds are increasingly chasing life sciences deals in Europe and Asia and not the US.

Last year at another Xconomy event, Don Listwin, the former #2 executive at Cisco Systems and founder of Canary Foundation had this to say “Cycle time is the villain in healthcare,” Listwin said. “Personalized medicine is a crock. It takes 20 years to get pills through the system. All this business about ‘we’re going to sequence everything and it’s going to be great’ is interesting but…it’s not going to happen for a long, long, long, long time.”

What do you think?