June 15, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 12)

The Holiest Grail, Personalized Medicine, Is Likely to Advance Incrementally

Life sciences companies that participate in the U.S. genomics market constantly struggle to exploit opportunities surrounding the impending revolutions of personalized medicine, molecular diagnostics, pharmacogenomics, and the $1,000 genome. These companies are under great pressures to execute effective growth strategies while confronting tremendous hype in an industry fraught with major scientific hurdles.

While each life sciences technological innovation appears to have advanced healthcare another step toward these impending revolutions, the leaders in the biomedical community are still relatively uncertain about which technology will usher the way. Fantastic novel genomics technologies have brought us to the cusp of exciting discoveries, and they will likely continue to prevail as important research tools. However, there are always new and pioneering technologies coming around the corner that can potentially replace the current platforms.

Executives at the most influential research tools companies are grappling with multiple challenges. For starters, they are trying to determine the best way to position their companies’ genomics technologies for the prospective world of personalized genomics. Additionally, they are attempting to define the path that will bring personalized genomics to healthcare. Finally, genomics market participants are compelled to focus genomics technology and product development on basic and commercial research needs while simultaneously penetrating markets for the multiple commercialized applications that are likely to drive rampant revenue growth.

While the days of high revenue growth from sales of genomics technologies—which were largely driven by The Human Genome Project—are behind us, the days of personal genomics are still to come. However, the realization of personal genomics is hindered by genomics platforms that are too inefficient and costly for ultrahigh-throughput comprehensive genome-wide analyses.

Next-generation Technologies

Consequently, markets for last-generation genomics technologies such as general PCR and conventional DNA sequencing are beginning to stabilize. Concurrently, next-generation genomics technologies are breathing new life into the market, contributing to a robust 10.4% compound annual growth rate between 2005 and 2012.

The fastest growing segment of the total U.S. genomics market is for qRT-PCR technologies, including instrumentation and reagents. As researchers attempt to validate discoveries made on the foundation of The Human Genome Project, they find technologies like qRT-PCR ideal for their targeted studies. Next to qRT-PCR, the DNA microarray segment is growing second fastest. While genome-wide expression analyses are forecasted to drive the majority of revenue generation, markets related to novel genomics analyses such as CGH, genome-wide methylation studies, and ChIP-chip are likely to undergo the highest growth. Finally, growth of the DNA-sequencing technology segment is forecasted to largely result from the introduction and extensive placement of next-generation DNA-sequencing technologies.

General consensus is that in the next 10–15 years, a technology will emerge that is capable of sequencing an entire human genome for approximately $1,000. Such technologies will boost the further escalation of discovery, which in turn will lead to an even greater focus on pharmacogenomic development. The cycles of sustained and then hastening rates of discovery will ultimately help establish pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine as permanent parts of healthcare.

As opposed to there being a handful of breakthrough pharmacogenomics-based therapies that alter the diagnostics, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industry landscapes, the personalized medicine revolution is going to come first in small steps, then larger steps, and then by leaps and bounds. Genomics technology market participants must remain sensitive to the incremental progress as each step will come with new trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Jonathan Witonsky is an industry
analyst in the drug discovery
technologies and clinical diagnostics group of Frost & Sullivan.
Web: www.frost.com
E-mail: [email protected]

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