A relatively unknown biotech company in Waltham, Mass has secretly rolled out a machine that's capable of sequencing an entire genome in 24 hours for $5,000. This is an extraordinary claim: current cutting-edge gene sequencing tech takes at least twice as long, and costs about $100,000. Intelligent Bio-Systems, the company who dropped this genetics hype bomb, says they've secretly deployed one of their sequencers in an "undisclosed institution," and that they'll be rolling out three more in "undisclosed" places next year.
What is this, James Cameron's next movie? It's not like you drive away potential research scientists by leaking spoilers about your kickass new sequencer. In fact, if the sequencer actually existed, I'm guessing IBS would be sharing pictures and stats about it like mad. So why all the weird cloak-and-dagger crap in a field that's hardly known for publicity stunts?
Partly this is about the latest X-prize, which will be awarded to the first group who can sequence a genome for under $1000. Obviously, IBS is throwing their hat into the ring, and VCs are listening. The company took home some hefty bags of loot in a first round of funding.
More importantly this is about the transformation of biology into a flashier, more consumer-oriented field. The age of dot-coms is long over, and the age of bio-coms has begun. I can't wait for the first gene-sequencer viral marketing campaign on YouTube.
$5000 Genome by Next Year [VentureBeat]