The New York Times reports on Dan Stoicescu, a millionaire who paid to have his genes sequenced by Knome, Inc:
Mr. Stoicescu is the first customer of Knome, a Cambridge-based company that has promised to parse his genetic blueprint by spring. A Chinese executive has signed on for the same service with Knome’s partner, the Beijing Genomics Institute, the company said.
Scientists have so far unraveled only a handful of complete human genomes, all financed by governments, foundations and corporations in the name of medical research. But as the cost of genome sequencing goes from stratospheric to merely very expensive, it is piquing the interest of a new clientele.
“I’d rather spend my money on my genome than a Bentley or an airplane,” said Mr. Stoicescu, 56, a biotechnology entrepreneur who retired two years ago after selling his company. He says he will check discoveries about genetic disease risk against his genome sequence daily, “like a stock portfolio.”
Knome is not the only firm in the private genome business. Illumina, a sequencing firm in San Diego, plans to sell whole genome sequencing to the “rich and famous market” this year, said its chief executive, Jay Flatley. If competition drives prices down, the personal genome may quickly lose its exclusivity. The nonprofit X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the first group to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days, for $10,000 or less per genome. The federal government is supporting technology development with an eye to a $1,000 genome in the next decade.
But for now, Knome’s prospective customers are decidedly high-end. The company has been approached by hedge fund managers, Hollywood executives and an individual from the Middle East who could be contacted only through a third party, said Jorge Conde, Knome’s chief executive.