Personal medicine is a little bit closer. Now you can sequence your genome for about $1,000 in just one day.
Genome sequencing was once the realm of big institutions with loads of money, but a company called Ion Torrent is changing that. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed off its gene-sequencing device called the Ion Proton.
The machine itself isn’t cheap, coming in at about $149,000. The company sells another model, called the Ion Personal Genome Machine, which costs about $50,000. But the Proton has a lot more computing power and can sequence genes much faster than the less expensive model because it uses a lab-on-a-chip system — a technology based on semiconductors.
The computing power is key, however, as it allows the Ion Proton to sequence a person's entire genome for about the same price as some medical tests. To put it in perspective, the cost of an MRI without any insurance would run from $500 to 3,500.
The Ion Proton can also sequence exons, the protein-encoding regions of the genome where most disease-causing mutations happen. This opens up a lot to both researchers and doctors.