It’s been a few weeks since Illumina announced the eminent arrival of the ‘$1000 genome’ via the HiSeq X Ten and we’ve started to learn a little more about how exactly this instrument is going to impact the market.
Why is it so important?
People are pretty excited about the X Ten for one reason and one reason only – it brings down the cost of sequencing. While it takes some pretty serious commitment to hit the lowest price, it drops the cost of generating a Gb of sequence to $7. Prior to the X Ten, the price leader was Illumina’s HiSeq 2500 at $43/Gb – that’s a 6-fold drop in price!
This low price, coupled with the ability for each instrument to plow through 1800 human genomes a year (18,000 for the full X Ten configuration), will enable a new wave of population-level genomic studies. This is the system people will use to sequence whole countries.
Who has the HiSeq X Ten?
When Illumina announced the X Ten they already had three buyers lined up: the Broad Institute, the Garvan Institute and Macrogen. They also said they thought they could only deliver about five of these systems (or 50 individual instruments) in 2014 without revamping their supply chains. The very obvious subtext was “Get your orders in quickly!” Three more companies quickly heeded that call – New York Genome Center, deCODE Genetics, and Novogene. And then Craig Venter decided he needed to join the party, but one little system wasn’t enough. His new company, Human Longevity, has started with two full systems and has the option to purchase three more. At full capacity they alone would have the ability to sequence 100,000 genomes per year. Keep an eye on our HiSeq X Ten page for running list of the owners.
Who DOESN’T have the HiSeq X Ten?
While some of the names in the list of the first six customers were a bit of a surprise, perhaps even more surprising were some of the names NOT on the list. What about the genomics heavy hitters such as the Sanger Institute, Wash U, Baylor and BGI? Are they working on securing the funds to buy into the X Ten game, or have they decided that the restrictions (human whole genomes only) are too onerous? If anyone has heard any rumors, please let us know.
How much is this ‘$1000 genome’ going to really cost?
The question “How much does the $1000 genome cost?” sounds a bit like a Japanese koan. The answer is right in the question, right? Not really. Unless you have your own HiSeq X Ten system you’re going to need to pay a bit more than $1000 for that genome. In addition to the things that Illumina didn’t include in the cost calculations (like overhead and data storage), there’s the small matter of profit margin, at least for the commercial providers. While prices are still being finalized, we think it will likely end up in the range of $1500 to $2500 (depending on sample volume, turn around time, extra services, etc.)
When will it be available?
So far Illumina has sold eight systems, three more than what Illumina said they’d be able to deliver in 2014. Will the buyer of the eighth system (let alone the ninth or tenth) be out of luck for 2014? Probably not. While it’s not clear when everyone will have a full complement of systems, we’ve heard from our X Ten providers that they’ll take delivery on one or two systems this week or next. (And just in case you weren’t sure, while the minimum buy-in is 10 systems at a time, they don’t network or interact together in any special way, so you don’t need a full complement of 10 to get costs down.) Providers will start accepting orders soon with first data delivery targets in mid-April. Interest is high, so be sure to sign up on our HiSeq X Ten pre-order list.