CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Personal genomics company Knome recently announced it is partnering with Shenzhen, China-based Beijing Genomics Institute to sequence the entire genomes of two private individuals. These clients are expected to be the first individuals in the world to have their genome sequenced by a personal genomics firm. The announcement coincides with another effort dubbed the 1000 Genomes Project, in which BGI is also participating (see story "Consortium to tackle genome research project", this issue).
To date, only three scientists have had their genomes sequenced, all as part of sponsored research efforts. These include Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson, Dr. Craig Venter and an anonymous Chinese scientist sequenced by BGI. Once the sequencing for these two most recent commercial clients is finished, Knome and BGI are expected to have completed the sequencing of three of the five known human genomes.
"These individuals are pioneering an emerging science with us," says George Church, a co-founder of the firm and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. "Whole genome sequencing represents the future of personalized medicine and these sequenced genomes will nearly double the amount of whole-genome information available today."
Once the sequencing for these two most recent commercial clients is finished, Knome and BGI are expected to have completed the sequencing of three of the five known human genomes.
Knome's whole-genome sequencing and analysis services are being marketed globally to private individuals. Knome is currently offering a limited number of clients the opportunity to participate in its 2008 sequencing programs. Pricing starts at $350,000 and includes both sequencing and a comprehensive analysis from a team of leading geneticists, clinicians and bioinformaticians.
"We are very happy to be underway with our first clients," adds Ari Kiirikki, vice president of sales and business development at Knome. "At this time, both clients have chosen to remain anonymous. As part of our service, we have developed a variety of processes and tools designed to keep their genomic identity private and secure. If they choose to release their identity or share their genetic code, it will be on their own terms."