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Following the Curve

Shifting costs and technological improvements are keeping sequencing companies on their toes. As Chemical & Engineering News reports, these changes are also allowing the companies to dip those toes into the clinic.

Earlier this year, it notes, Illumina claimed that it was enabling the first human genomes to be sequenced for less than $1,000 — much less than the $3 billion price tag of the first human genome. "These advances have enabled new opportunities for genomic studies," CEN notes, adding that the field is quickly moving into research, clinical, and diagnostic applications.

For instance, it notes that Genomics England plans to sequence some 100,000 people to refine diagnoses and uncover new treatments, especially for rare diseases and cancer.

And as users "move up the learning curve, instrument developers are close behind," CEN says. It adds that there have been shifts within the companies with mergers and new products being introduced. Even before Illumina introduced the X Ten system, it made up some 70 percent of the $1.3 billion next-gen sequencing market, though it is still facing competition from newer technologies, especially nanopore-based sequencing systems.

Oxford Nanopore, CEN says, has been of high interest to users, though it may have hit a lull due to delays in commercialization.

"Despite such fits and starts, participants in the NGS field expect the move toward faster, cheaper, and better tools to continue," CEN says.