Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NIPT Paves Way For Liquid Biopsy Market

Marty Chilberg, at Seeking Alpha:
Liquid biopsy test providers will likely outperform the market over the next few years given the growth profile and the probability of acquisitions. I'll be watching those providers that are focused on treatment monitoring, high risk early detection and personalized clinical trial diagnostics in the short term as they provide the highest probability of early monetization. All the NIPT providers have indicated an intent to launch liquid biopsy diagnostic products in the future. Illumina has indicated that they are currently in development but has provided minimal detail to date. Natera provided the above S-1 recap but did not guide with respect to launch time frame. Roche has not provided any substance though Ariosa has been hiring oncology and bioinformatics professionals indicating their intent. Sequenom has announced their company goal to launch a research use only test in 2015 that will interrogate over 100 genes for a dozen cancer types.
And on the topic of investments, he offers this insight:
The simplest investment approach would be to focus on short-read sequencing platform providers. Long read is more costly and less appropriate for sequencing fetal DNA
I'm in complete agreement with this.  But it's not only about fetal DNA, it's about the much bigger market for plasma DNA sequencing.

There's an abundance of evidence showing that circulating plasma DNA ranges in size from 140-200bp, as you can see from the graph below (from this paper):

Size distributions of circulating plasma DNA
This inherent property of plasma DNA places short read sequencing providers and users in a dominant position over long read sequencing providers.  While it's true that long reads are better for exploring solid tumors and mapping out chromosomal rearrangements, at this point their application for plasma DNA sequencing is not that compelling.