Sequencing Trends Worth Watching
At Scientia we do a great deal of thinking about the evolution of sequencing technology, its commercial potential, and the strategic implications for stakeholders. In this article we outline, define, and describe some of the more forward looking trends we are following, including sequencing activity polarization, workflow value shifts, and clinical and commercial applications.
The first trend to watch is sequencing activity polarization, which we define as an increasing share of total high-throughput sequencing activity being conducted by the largest and smallest sequencing labs. It is driven by a series of centralization and decentralization forces that are acting on the space simultaneously.
The most important centralization force is the emergence of research consortia seeking to sequence and analyze large numbers of human and other large (meta) genomes with the goal of discovering new variants and exploring their significance to human health and other matters of economic and/or scientific importance.
It turns out that this trend drives centralization because there are a number of economies of scale associated with analyzing a lot of genomes. The cost of sample logistics and tracking, sample preparation, the sequencing itself, IT infrastructure, and analysis tends to fall as the number of samples being analyzed by a given center expands.
Scientists who outsource their large projects to larger labs may benefit from these labs’ lower cost basis as well as a reduction in technology acquisition and obsolescence risk. Furthermore, a service provider may be able to provide more standardized and reproducible results.
This centralization process reminds us somewhat of the history of the DNA synthesizer market. In the ’90s many labs synthesized their own DNA, but over time end users have increasingly turned to commercial custom oligo suppliers that are able to provide lower costs and better quality.