Genetic Future

I’ll be at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting in Marco Island, Florida for the next week, soaking up sun and genomics, keeping my eye out for the anticipated major announcements from sequencing companies and researchers, and quietly panicking about my presentation on Thursday. You’ll hear more about the meeting from me and the other bloggers there – Luke Jostins, David Dooling, Dan Koboldt and Anthony Fejes – over the next week.
It’s amazing to think that it was at the same meeting in 2009 – just one year ago – that Complete Genomics emerged dramatically from stealth mode, announcing results from its first human genome sequence. The company has had a fairly impressive year since: despite delays in obtaining funding due to the economic situation the company successfully pulled in $45 million last August to fund the construction of its new sequencing facility, and published a Science paper on analysis of their first three genomes.
Now, on the eve of the meeting, the company has announced that it has orders booked for 500 more complete genome sequences. The press release also notes that the company successfully churned out a total of 50 sequences in 2009 for more than 10 customers.
These are impressive numbers for a company whose technology and business model – a unique “genome factory” approach in which its technology is deployed only in its own custom-built facilities rather than sold to genome facilities – were regarded with profound skepticism by many researchers in the AGBT audience last year. Will the company be able to meet its stated target of 10,000 genomes (oops, I mean 5,000 genomes) this year? We’ll see.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what else the company has to say in the presentation by its CSO Rade Drmanac on Saturday.

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Comments

  1. #1 Keith Robison
    February 22, 2010

    Daniel:

    Looking forward to your reportage from Marco Island.

    BTW, Complete Genomics scaled back their goal to *only* 5K genomes this year.
    http://www.genomeweb.com/sequencing/complete-genomics-delays-start-commercial-operations-q2-cuts-target-5000-genomes

  2. #2 Daniel MacArthur
    February 22, 2010

    Hey Keith,

    Thanks for that – I forgot all about their official downgrading. I’ve fixed up the post.

  3. #3 Katharine
    February 23, 2010

    Totally unrelated, but I have a question about model organisms in genetics.

    Bdelloid rotifers are able to incorporate foreign DNA into their genome. Given that this happens, what is their status as potential model organisms for genetic research? What are the pros and cons of using them to study mechanisms surrounding, say, recombination, or using them as genetic engineering model organisms?

  4. #4 Steven Murphy MD
    February 23, 2010

    Um,
    I guess Keith is right. GET may actually be the only conference with all the genomes ever done……..

    Maybe not. Time will tell. Will they really get 5000k full coverage, useful genomes?

    -Steve

  5. #5 Jason
    February 24, 2010

    @Steve,

    It will be a little tough to judge if they will truly get 5,000 full coverage genomes. Due to the nature of their business (selling services as opposed to instruments) there is no way to tell how many instruments they possess and what type of true scalability they have. Additionally, the sheer computing power to store and analyze 5,000 genomes in a year is mind-boggling. Approaching from just the storage angle, one would likely need somewhere from 5-30 TB (that’s 5,000-30,000 GB) per genome (assuming 50X coverage) just to archive the data. Multiply that by 5,000 and one can begin to see the sheer scale needed to undertake such an ambitious project.

    I, for one, will be interested to see if they can deliver.

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