$1,000 is the "right price" for human genome

Ronny Kerr · February 23, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4382

Guardant Health CEO Helmy Eltoukhy kicks of Splash in a fireside chat with Bambi Francisco

Bambi Francisco, CEO and founder of Vator, kicked off Vator Splash Health 2016 this morning in a fireside chat with Helmy Eltoukhy (Founder & CEO, Guardant Health). Guardant Health, which has raised almost $200 million in venture capital, offers a simple blood test for monitoring cancer in late-stage cancer patients.

An important piece of cancer research is the human genome, and that piece of the puzzle is becoming increasingly less expensive. Eltoukhy said he was working with the Human Genome Project (HGP) when his team won the first few grants for massive parallel sequencers, a major advancement in genetic testing for cancer.

The price of the genome, Eltoukhy pointed out, has steeply declined over the past decade. In 2007, the first digital copy of a personal genome sequence (presented on a portable hard drive) was estimated to cost about $1 million. Since then the cost for individual genome sequences has dropped to $100,000, then $10,000, and, most recently, $1,000.

When Bambi asked how much it would cost in the next few years, Eltoukhy said $1000 is like the "right price" for the human genome.

More important than cost, at this point, he argues that the "definition of the human genome will change." The one you get today is comparable to "ground beef," Eltoukhy says, offering 97 percent coverage across small, individual snippets. There's no way to tell the difference between the mother's side and the father's side in high resolution, but that will change as more advanced technologies allow us to get a more complete picture.

Cancer, by definition, is not static. It's defined by alterations in the genome both temporally and spatially, so the more advanced our genomic sequencing becomes, the more powerful our genetic testing for cancer will become.

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Guardant Health


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Guardant Health is focused on developing breakthrough diagnostic technologies that can transform cancer from a silent killer into a manageable disease. The company was founded in 2012 by a team of serial entrepreneurs with expertise in next-generation sequencing, single-cell genomics and cancer diagnostics.  The team is committed to positively and significantly impacting patient health through technology that addresses long-standing unmet needs in oncology.