March 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 6)
Tamara Zemlo, Ph.D. VP for advisory services BioInformatics
Market Expanding Rapidly as Scientists Embrace GWAS, CNV Analysis, and Genotyping
With impressive technological advancements, the field of genetic analysis has become one of the fastest growing areas of opportunity for life science suppliers. As the costs associated with genomic research go down, players are swiftly entering the market, while savvy life science suppliers are moving quickly to respond to the needs of this evolving market.
In response to these dynamics, BioInformatics has quantified and characterized the market for genetic analysis including products used for genome-wide association studies (GWAS), copy-number variation (CNV) analysis, genotyping, and techniques such as microarrays, sequencing, and real-time PCR.
This analysis, presented in the firm’s report, Genomic Technologies: Market Insights for Life Science Suppliers, is based upon a worldwide survey of over 450 scientists.
Gene-expression research is by far the most popular application for genetic analysis, with 80% of survey respondents employing it in their studies. However, many genetic analysis techniques require expensive instrumentation and experienced staff to operate and run experiments. Scientists, especially those in academia, rely on outsourcing many of their genetic analysis techniques to offset some of the costs and to take advantage of the expertise of those who work in such facilities. Respondents outsource Sanger sequencing, microarrays, and next-generation sequencing most often.
Respondents’ budgets for genetic analysis studies are split between spending on instrumentation, consumables, and services—approximately half of their budgets are dedicated to consumables and less than 20% of their budgets are dedicated to either instrumentation or services, respectively. Of their consumables budget, spending is the greatest for real-time PCR and microarray products.
Although respondents expect the portion of their spending among different techniques to remain relatively similar over the next few years, they do anticipate a slight decrease in Sanger sequencing spending and an increase in next-generation sequencing spending. In particular, if the cost-per-base of next-generation sequencing continues to fall, its use will increase as more and more labs adopt the technology.
Since consumables comprise the largest portion of respondents’ genetic analysis budgets, life science suppliers may want to focus their efforts toward increasing customer satisfaction for these products, especially real-time PCR and microarrays, as this is where they will have the most frequent contact with the customer. For example, many respondents indicate that they have significant unmet needs with respect to data analysis tools for microarrays and call for more accessible and easy-to-use product offerings.
The field of genetic analysis continues to evolve as the number of different technologies and possible applications expand. As it branches out in new directions, scientists and life science suppliers must adapt to changing experimental requirements.
One of the problems that scientists encounter is that of data storage. Sequencing and microarrays create vast amounts of data that demand considerable storage space, in addition to the need for keeping data safe from a crashing hard-drive or other computer malfunction. While many survey respondents (40%) feel that their lab is best suited to store and maintain their own data, the majority (60%) believes that another party is better qualified to store and maintain their data.
This need is an opportunity for life science suppliers, core facilities, and other service providers to better meet the expectations of their customers in terms of workflow. Scientists will likely view suppliers that provide integrated solutions to the challenges of data storage more favorably.