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Human Genome Sequenced for $50,000 Using Helicos Instrument

A Stanford University scientist, working with a team of just two others, has sequenced his own genome for a cost of under $50,000. The previous lowest-cost human genome sequencing effort was accomplished at a cost of $250,000 by a team of almost 200 people in 2008. "This is the first demonstration that you don't need a genome center to sequence a human genome," said Dr. Stephen Quake, whose genome was sequenced. "It's really democratizing the fruits of the genome revolution and saying that anybody can play in this game. This can now be done in one lab, with one machine, at a modest cost," said Dr. Quake. "It's going to unleash an enormous amount of creativity and really broaden the field." To sequence his genome, Dr. Quake and his team used a commercially available, refrigerator-sized instrument called the Helicos Biosciences SMS (Single Molecule Sequencing) HeliScope. Dr. Quake, who pioneered the underlying technology in 2003, is a co-founder of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company and chairs its scientific advisory board. This landmark sequencing effort was described online on August 9 in Nature Biotechnology. [Press release] [Nature Biotechnology article]