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Editor s Note

The molecular biology tool market is a place of dynamic change and enormous potential. Today, companies in this sector are seeing a flattening of earnings growth as traditional “omics” technologies such as gene sequencing and gene expression reach maturity, while other sectors like proteomics and metabolomics are blossoming earlier on the growth curve.

Change is rapid. Only two years ago, the ability to put a whole human genome on one microarray was seen as a long-term goal. Then, last summer, the market ignited as first one, then two, and now as many as a half dozen companies began commercializing this tool. The technique of RNAi interference has rapidly morphed to be a part of any molecular biology toolkit

In the wings of the industry, a new challenge arises — that of combining different tools to provide an integrated, systemic approach to molecular biology investigation.

To create a commercial market out of the promise of such an “umbrella platform” might be the industry’s equivalent of the moon shot. Still, the industry is looking to build upon the growth sparked by the human genome project with this next generation of technology, but the recent decline in the commercial sequencing market highlights the ambiguous and short-lived nature of “success” in this field.

The various “omics” platforms create an overall estimated market of $8 billion a year in revenues for the companies in these sectors. That is a serious and evolving market and not one that will be abandoned in the search of the molecular biology philosopher’s stone — the technology platform that will seamlessly go from sample to data to systems knowledge. The need for that innovation is already beginning to drive demand from a small, but influential set of customers — high-end academic laboratories fueled by government funding in the US and, to a lesser extent, abroad.

Today, GenomeWeb launches BioCommerce Week, a publication that will cover the strategic commerce of the primary technology companies in the molecular biology tools sector, the deals and strategy that support the market today, and those that will create growth for the markets of tomorrow.

BCW’s first issue leads with an article that looks at the recent changes at Applied Biosystems and its positioning for the future.

Additionally, we are introducing an index of 15 companies that are positioned to tackle the innovation to come. This index will be updated weekly with market statistics, and no doubt welcome new companies as product categories expand to meet new market demands.

This week, we also visit Lee Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, clearly one of the most evangelizing voices for how research — and technology commercialization — must change. In the coming weeks, this publication will continue to report on the thought leaders, the innovators, and the commercializers of the new generation of molecular biology tools.

Each issue will include charts, tables, and other graphics to help illustrate the evolution of the tools market. These graphics can be downloaded from the BCW website (www.biocommerceweek.com) each week as PowerPoints.

There is no doubt that there is change afoot in this market. And, as we’ve heard, almost unanimously, there is no one company, or no one lab, that can create the new biological marketplace alone.

We look forward to reporting on these changes.

— Mo Krochmal ([email protected])

The Scan

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Sanofi, GSK Report Promising Results

The Wall Street Journal reports that the candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline has had encouraging early results.

Influence of Luck

The New York Times examines how the US avoided variant-fueled increases in COVID-19 cases.

PLOS Papers on Retina GWAS, Hantaan Virus, COVID-19 Phenome-Wide Association Study

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of retinal morphology, analysis of hantaan virus found in a mouse, and more.