The economic soothsayers report that their crystal ball predictions show a bright future for protein arrays. According to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, the protein array market will grow from $41 million in 2001 to more than $660 million in 2007.
This report follows a similar one released at the end of March by BioInsights, which predicted that sales of protein chips would rise to $700 million in 2006, compared with $76 million in sales from 2001.
The two reports arrived at slightly different figures because their criteria for inclusion were different. The Frost & Sullivan report includes the Biacore and Ciphergen technologies as well as bead-based systems, while the BioInsights report excluded bead-based systems but included other companies.
The Frost & Sullivan report divides the market into consumables and instruments and predicts that the latter will create about twice as much revenue as the former. Business models range from companies concentrating on one aspect of the technology, such as surfaces, to companies developing comprehensive platforms. Both require partnership with protein content providers. Because many protein chip companies are young, they face marketing and technical support challenges in addition to technical ones.
Compared to DNA microarray companies, firms in the protein array business face additional technical challenges, owing to the diversity of proteins, capture methods, and the difficulty of keeping proteins functional on surfaces, said Eric Gay, lead analyst on Frost & Sullivan’s proteomics market service, in a conference call last week. As a result of the large number of proteins, open platforms are most likely to emerge in the short term. However, proof-of-concept studies are needed to convince end users of the value of protein arrays.
But Frost & Sullivan sees widespread applications for protein arrays at various stages of drug development and in discovery of biomarkers associated with disease. “Thus this market, while facing considerable challenges in the short run, is poised for significant growth,” said Gay.
In addition to technology providers, 14 end users were surveyed.
— MMJ & JK