Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sequencing Companies: Infrastructure of The Next Medical System

It sometimes pays off to go through your notes, however old they may be.

After AGBT 2013 and the associated flurry of interest in clinical exome sequencing finally making it, I did a bit of research into what companies would become 'infrastructural' in this new medical reality.  Somehow, the notes were buried under other work and resurfaced after I went on a desktop archaeological dig.  It was bad enough to make David Allan cry.

Out of all of the companies I noted that Illumina, in a relatively quiet way, issued a press release on it's acquisition of Verinata, developer of the verifi prenatal test which tests maternal blood for evidence of a few major chromosomal abnormalities, like Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), and Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome).

Curiously enough, news of Verinata's acquisition was made public in January and was completed during AGBT, yet no mention of Verinata (that I noticed) at the conference was made, despite it being a large purchase ($350 million + $100 million in milestone payments), and despite the obviousness the conference projected of clinical sequencing arriving in full force.  The conference wasn't even finished and speculation that clinical reports are going to be the theme next time around started circulating on a newly minted #AGBT14 hashtag.

Consider the expanding role of clinical sequencing with the dominance of any of the sequencing providers and you can quickly see that there's an opportunity to position themselves as infrastructure in a clinical sequencing market.  It's a nice position to be in.

When it comes to television, Comcast sells you the cable service and lets networks compete to sell you programming.

When it comes to clinical sequencing, will Illumina rest happy doing the sequencing and let biomarker providers battle it out in the market?