US company Life Technologies has unveiled a genome-sequencing machine able to provide a complete genetic profile in a day and for about $1,000.
Meanwhile, rival company Illumina said it would unveil its own version of the technology within a day.
The announcements come after "years of predictions that the the '$1,000 genome' — a read-out of a person's complete genetic information — was just around the corner," according to Reuters.
Life Technologies, based in Carlsbad, California, said Tuesday that its was taking orders for its benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer, designed to provide a full transcript of a person’s DNA in a day for just $1,000. Asking price: $99,000-$149,000, Reuters reported.
The Ion Proton is the successor to the Personal Genome Machine, made by the company Ion Torrent, a subsidiary of Life Technologies.
Also on Tuesday, Illumina — the market-leading maker of DNA sequencers — said it would launch its own machine capable of reading a human genome in a little more than a day and for $1,000, Forbes reported.
However, Illumina chief executive Jay Flatley told Forbes their machine would cost $740,000, and will be available as an upgrade to the company’s current $690,000 machines.
Life Technologies CEO and chairman Jonathan Rothberg told Reuters the Ion Proton was 1,000 times more powerful than existing technology.
Taking up about as much space as an office printer, it can sequence an entire genome in a single day rather than six to eight weeks required only a few years ago.
The news service quotes cardiologist Eric Topol, of the private California hospital and doctor network Scripps Health, as saying the machine "represents an exceptional advance and can change medicine."
The company has signed on Baylor College of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine and the Broad Institute as its first customers.
Rothberg said he expected research labs would use Proton "to obtain the complete genome sequence of people with cancer or autism, for instance, and thereby elucidate a disease's underlying genetic causes as well as possible ways to treat it."
Yale geneticist Richard Lifton, the first to document the use a DNA sequence to diagnose a disease, is looking at utilizing the Proton for clinical work, according to Forbes.
In the state of Connecticut, where Yale is based, infants are tested for 43 different genetic mutations that need to be detected early in infancy. The Proton could be a better way to do that that traditional methods, especially given its ability to deliver results quickly.
However, according to Reuters, other scientists and physicians voiced concern that a $1,000 genome opened the door to widespread whole-genome sequencing even of people who are not ill, and to associated ethical, legal, and medical issues "that experts are only beginning to grapple with."
"I'm a big proponent of bringing genetics into the clinic," said Thomas Quertermous, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University and an expert in the genetics of heart disease. "But it has to be done in a timely way, and not before its time."
Stocks in Life Technologies Corp. — the owner of Ion Torrent and one of the biggest makers of scientific equipment — jumped 8.1 percent on the news, Bloomberg reported.