Friday, May 3, 2013

Genomic Sequencing Companies Continue To Evolve

There's a nice, short review of the evolving genome sequencing market in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery:
Historically, manufacturers have relied on selling sequencing technologies and reagents. Today, Illumina and other leading companies operate complex business models that encompass the manufacture of genomic sequencing technologies, the provision of commercial genomic sequencing services and the sale of products in the informatics and diagnostics markets.
I recently mentioned that sequencing companies are positioning themselves to become the backbone of the medical system, as it's the kind of technology that's suited to having a single point of contact if genomic information is needed from a wide range of samples.

I'm starting to think the trend isn't even limited to human health or research uses; Jay Flatley, Illumina's CEO quipped on a recent earnings call that "ultimately, ... you're going to be doing genotyping on every cow that's born and using that as a way to triage its future".  Over 30 million calves make that another huge application that isn't mired in the safety issues relevant to humans.

Returning to the Nature Review, it's important to keep several obstacles in mind that are still blocking genomic technologies from widespread use, in addition to the analysis bottleneck of being able to analyze all the data, which is the province of computational biologists like myself:
Despite the rapid progress in the development of sequencing strategies, the era of personalized medicine is still a distant goal. Several challenges remain, including the inadequate training of physicians in the area of personalized medicine, attaining the $1,000 genome, enhanced pharmaceutical R&D processes to leverage genomic advances and an international framework for regulating the use of genomic data in the clinic and thereby protecting patient privacy.