Genetic Future

The auction of a whole-genome sequencing service that I scoffed at a few days ago is now live on eBay – serious bidders only, please, and bids start at $68,000.

Here’s what you get for your suitcase of cash:

  • Personal whole genome sequencing and comprehensive interpretation of your genome.
  • Knome’s proprietary KnomeXplorer™ genome browser software to navigate and explore your own genome.
  • Two years of Knome’s update service allowing you to remain current on the latest cutting-edge genetics research.
  • A digital copy of your whole genome sequence on Knome’s security encrypted GenomeKey [an encrypted USB drive – DM].
  • A private, in-person roundtable discussion held at the Harvard Club of Boston with Knome’s team of world-leading geneticists, clinicians and bioinformaticians to review your sequence data, present the results of your analysis, discuss the role of genetic variation in the development of disease and highlight the latest research and discoveries.
  • A private dinner with Professor George Church, Co-Founder of Knome, Inc.; exclusive visit to Knome’s headquarters to review Knome’s sequencing protocols and four nights of complimentary accommodations at the new and exclusive Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston.

I noted in my previous post that for most of us the real value of a genome sequence doesn’t currently come close to $68,000; but if you’re wealthy enough to be able to throw this amount of cash around without blinking, you’re unlikely to be able to find anyone who can squeeze more information out of a genome sequence than Knome’s team – and a dinner with George Church has got to be worth at least a few grand.

If you’re a German millionaire you’ll want to get your bid in early before this legislation is passed and you’re no longer allowed to get your genome sequenced without someone else’s permission. And if you’re charity-minded, Mary reminded me in the comments on my previous post of a very deserving recipient – one situation where receiving a whole genome sequencing service could have a very real and positive impact on more than one person’s life.


  1. #1 Monodb Bart
    April 26, 2009

    Prof. Church must not expect more than about 3650 subscribers.

  2. #2 HealthDame
    April 26, 2009

    The only value I see here is a) prestige, and b) do Knome’s “team of world-leading geneticists, clinicians and bioinformaticians” know something the rest of the genetics world doesn’t know? I guess that’s possible. It’s frustrating how fragmented and contradictory this type of data can be, and it still takes too long for data to get published. Really appreciated your information-dense posts on this topic.

  3. #3 Pellionisz
    April 26, 2009

    As pointed out in my answer in an other blog, the greatest value (beyond sheer publicity) is the practical evaluation & establishment of the new business model of offering Personal Genome Computer by which e.g. the “very deserving recipients” will be enabled by the basic tool to analyze their affordable full DNA.

    While the competition to commercially provide affordable full DNA sequencing is already fierce, the KnomeXplorer is the first (and somewhat incomplete) prelude to the Personal Genome Computer market as envisioned.

    Highest bidder will receive the KnomeXplorer software but the offer does not seem to include the required hardware configuration KnomeXplorer runs on, nor is specified what is the level of expertise required to run it, nor the type of analysis it could do. Dr. Rienhoff (aptly referred to as a most “deserving recipient”) is a leading example of an emerging market for “Personal Genome Computing” even more devoted and loyal than enthusiasts of early Apple computers of an earlier era. However,Personal Genome Computer leaders are likely to shop separately for the “affordable full DNA sequencing” in an increasingly competitive market and the best “PGC hardware & software”, that is also emerging (and 1/6 is made available in a separate bid) as an industry on its own.

    The eBay Auction is a very effective public measure of the value of the bundle, and a winner may be a business-savvy visionary with an intent to gear the world for the new era of a “genome based economy” with “personal genome computers”.

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