Since the first draft of the human genome was published in 2001, DNA sequencing technology has advanced at a remarkable pace. Launched in 1990, the Human Genome Project sought to sequence all three billion base pairs of the haploid human genome, an endeavor that took more than a decade and cost nearly three billion dollars. The subsequent development of so-called “next generation” sequencing (NGS) methods has raised the possibility that real-time, affordable genome sequencing will soon be widely available. Currently, NGS methods can be used to sequence up to 60 billion base pairs per day. Whole-genome sequencing costs an estimated $5,000-10,000, with that number predicted to fall to $1000 in the near future.
In the past few years, the availability of high-throughput NGS methods has led to a proliferation of potential and actual clinical applications for NGS. NGS therefore has the potential to usher in the long-awaited era of personalized medicine.