GE Global Research received a $900,000 grant from NHGRI to develop technologies that will enable a human-sized genome to be sequenced for under $1,000 and take less than one day to complete. With current technology, the cost is now estimated to be between $10 million to $50 million and the sequencing time is at least one year.
As part of the two-year project, John Nelson, a molecular biologist in the molecular and cellular biology lab, and his research team will use a combination of enzyme and dye-tagged nucleotide resources in a way that will simplify the fundamental, front-end chemistry of massively parallel sequencing-by-synthesis. This method uses the natural catalytic cycle of DNA polymerase to capture just a single DNA base on an immobilized primer/template. A fluorescence scanner will be used to scan and identify hundreds of thousands of individual DNA molecules at once. Then the cycle will be repeated.
The award is segmented into two phases, with the initial two-year goal aiming to demonstrate proof-of-principle. If specific milestones are met, the project proposal includes an additional funding option to develop a prototype of automated instrumentation.