It’s been largely touted that to sequence a full human genome is now largely under $1,000 – a figure pushed by multiple reputable sources. While this figure may be true, the devil is really in the details. In general, most studies performed have factored in the raw cost of materials to do the sequencing. This is typically just the cost for the panel and reagents.
This is obviously a tremendous improvement from where the field started at, however that $1,000 figure is typically not the case. What these studies do not include are standard operation and overhead costs. While it may exist, we personally haven’t seen a study providing a broken out line item explaining the costs.
Additionally, these reports are largely looking at just getting the raw sequencing data (sometimes called “draft” data). This is purely just the data produced by the sequencer and doesn’t include computing costs to align the genome to a reference genome. Furthermore, this doesn’t include human labor, office space costs, electricity, etc. General overhead costs, at least for the private sector, have been excluded from the $1,000 figure.
We don’t believe that it should necessarily be that way primarily because it is misleading. What ends up happening is that clients looking for services are attracted to this $1,000 price point but, upon doing more investigation, they find the costs to be often times triple the sequencing price or more to get meaningful data.
For example, here is a hypothetical look at the true costs of sequencing a full human genome:
- Reagent Kit – $735
- Sample Prep Equipment – $10
- Lab Tech Hourly Cost – $22
- Genome Alignment (Compute + Storage) – $32
- Bioinformatics Analysis (~4 hours @ $120/hr) – $480
- Daily Facility Overhead – $333
- Total Estimated Raw Cost – $1,612
We can see that the raw cost to the company to just cover materials to even perform the sequence is around $1,612. This is an at best scenario when it comes to raw costs and doesn’t include items such as shipping costs. Additionally, the daily facility overhead is likely to be much higher in larger facilities that have multiple service offerings due to more equipment, office space costs, etc.
The end cost to the user, for the above scenario, would likely be around $2,901 when factoring in enough of a profit margin to ensure the business can stay operational, giving us a cost that is roughly 3x the touted $1,000 price point.
At The Sequencing Center, we realized this was somewhat a fallacy to begin with but asked ourselves how we could truly get to that price point or a business model that allows us to change how the industry operates. We realized that if we approach our business model the way high tech companies approach theirs with SaaS pricing (Software as a Service), we get Sequencing as a Service. This model is a predictable monthly cost that can dramatically reduce the cost of sequencing through automation and bulk purchases.
For example, when a customer signs onto one of our sequencing packages, they get Sequencing, Bioinformatics, and Data Management included in one price. Given that we work with our customers to know what type of sequencing they will need (ie. bacterial, viral, human, etc.), we can bulk purchase the reagents for a large discounted price and automate the bioinformatics pipelines. We pass these costs on to our customers which helps dramatically lower our prices.
In some of our packages, we have full human genome sequences that cost $661 per sequence. That’s the true cost we pass on to our customers which includes the full genome sequence, bioinformatics analysis, and a years worth of managed data storage. We see this as a tremendous value to our customers for the following reasons:
- This offers completely predictable pricing
- A price point that is well below industry standard that maintains superb quality
- Transparent pricing that is clear and impervious to market conditions
- An “all-in-one” solution that provides not only raw data but also analyzed genome data, in depth reporting, and a managed data storage for all the genomes
If you’re interested in hearing more about our product offering or experiencing the tremendous value that our customers receive, head on over to our contact page to get in touch!