How Illumina Came to Dominate Genome Sequencing (and Intellectual Property Litigation)

Here is more on Illumina. By 2014, their automated DNA sequencing machines had reduced the cost of sequencing a human genome to US$ 1000 and the company’s products accounted for 90% of the DNA sequenced worldwide.


It is hard to overstate the utility of this technology in the burgeoning field of ‘personalized’ or ‘individualized’ medicine. Presently, we use the concept of “number needed to treat” to account for the fact that a given medication (or vaccine) only works in some patients. Most often, this is due to genetic determinants. For example, when Zofran (an anti-emetic used with chemotherapy and post-anesthesia nausea) came on the market at $25 a pop, it only worked on 1 in 5 patients. Thus, to prevent one episode of nausea, five patients were dosed and the cost was $125. Obviously, this understanding applies across the board, including for lifesaving medications. The improvement in outcomes, prevention of side effects (especially by avoiding them in those patients to whom the med would not be given because we would know a priori that they won’t work) and cost savings will be so large that we will likely call this a ‘revolution’. To the extent the cost comes down, more and more of us will have our genomes known to our physicians. Of course, the potential misuse of such critical information is huge as well.

This understanding also refines the granularity with which we characterize the effectiveness of various medications or therapies. The MSM misrepresents reality as a matter of course for political purposes. They say either ‘it works’ or ‘it doesn’t work,’ based on the desired narrative. The truth is, that a given therapy likely has marginal benefit within a population. Knowing individuals’ genomes has the potential to accurately predict those individuals in whom it is highly likely to ‘work’. That’s ‘my truth’ and I’m sticking to it.


This is one of the least known and appreciated technological achievements of recent decades. The cost of sequencing a full human (or other) genome has fallen much faster than Moore’s law for semiconductors, from US$ 1 billion in the 1980s to around US$ 200 with the latest Illumina machine.

Not only is personalised medicine now practical, many unspeakable truths about human genetics are now accessible to researchers unafraid of confronting the gatekeepers.


Hopefully, such fearless researchers are self-funded and self-published! Also unappreciated is the extent to which those researchers who arrive at ‘non-politically-desired’ results, never again receive any grants. This is, I think, the singular most corrupting influence on scientific advancement.


Sounds like the anti-Theranos.


And now the whole space is likely going to be commoditized further, using the GPU vector supercomputers for this purpose:


Fascinating video! The technology is amazing – but so are the academic, commercial, patent, & anti-trust issues. Lawyers will always find a way to get rich!

Illumina is based in San Diego – but has recently started manufacturing in Shanghai. We can all guess how this story will end.