Jan 12, 2018 05:04 PM

Quick Take: BGI Says It Will Slash Cost of Gene Testing to $300

Photo: Visual China
Photo: Visual China

Chinese gene testing firm BGI Genomics Co. vowed to halve the cost of its gene sequencing service to $300 per person, but this might not be enough to close the gap between it and U.S. competitor Illumina Inc. in both pricing and efficiency.

The company is working toward being able to finish an individual’s whole genome sequencing within 24 hours and limit the price to $300 by 2020, BGI CEO Yin Ye said Thursday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

Earlier this month, BGI, working with U.S. peer Edico Genome, managed to analyze the entire genomes of 100 people within just two hours, but the technology they used is yet to be used for commercial purposes.

Gene-sequencing technology has become much more affordable and efficient since Illumina launched the first such service in 2006. At the time, it took a few months to analyze an individual’s gene data and cost about $300,000.

BGI previously enjoyed a price advantage over Illumina as the Chinese firm’s BGISEQ-500 sequencing platform costs only $600 for each test, lower than Illumina’s $1,000-per-test HiSeq X platform.

However, Illumina last year launched its new NovaSeq series, which can test a human genome within an hour and will “one day” help the company to cut its price to only $100 per test, the company said without specifying how far in the future this will be.

In addition to human gene tests, BGI has started to analyze animals and plants. Yin on Thursday announced his ambition to explore the DNA of different species through gene sequencing.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (

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