The genomics market is forecast to grow to $20billion p.a. by 2020 (source Market&Markets Feb 2016). Nanopore DNA sequencing technology is key to this large market and recently I described the innovative mobile DNA sequencing solution a British company, Oxford Nanopore Technologies has brought to market.
The commercial importance of this market is shown in the tale of University of California Santa Cruz's (UCSC) lawsuit against Roger Chen CTO of Genia Technologies.
Roche acquired the startup in 2014 with its eye on this growing market. If UCSC win the lawsuit that could bring those plans to a sticky end.
In the meantime Oxford Nanopore Technologies are doing to DNA sequencing what smartphones have done to buying. selling and socialising.
Oxford Nanopore has developed the world's first and only nanopore DNA sequencer, the MinION. The MinION is a portable, real time, long-read, low cost device that has been designed to bring easy biological analyses to anyone, whether in scientific research, education or a range of real world applications such as disease/pathogen surveillance, environmental monitoring, food chain surveillance, self-quantification or even microgravity biology.
The combination of the MinION, big data analytics and AI/Augmented Intelligence has a massive potential for us all. That is, no doubt, the reason Oxford Nanopore announced $127m funding on December 12th.
Its ambitious and realisable goals are uplifting:-
"to enable the analysis of any living thing, by any person, in any environment".
Early birds catch the DNA sequencing worms!
The murkier side of this is the alleged greed that has lead to the lawsuit by UCSC against a competitor in this field.
Although Roche has not said when it plans to commercialize the Genia technology, earlier this month, it ended a clinical sequencing development agreement with Pacific Biosciences and said it planned to focus on developing the Genia technology for clinical use. At the time, Roche's head of sequencing solutions, Neil Gunn, said that Roche would announce a commercialization timeline in 2017. It's unclear how the lawsuit will impact that commercialization, but Mick Watson, director of ARK-Genomics at the Roslin Institute in the UK, speculated in a blog post that if the suit is decided in favor of UCSC, it could result in a very large settlement and potentially even the end of Genia.