By Julia Karow
Human whole-genome sequencing for the clinical market will require a new type of product that delivers less data than is currently provided for the research market, according to Complete Genomics CEO Cliff Reid.
Reid also said that a lack of data analysis and storage capabilities is currently the greatest barrier preventing the company from securing large deals with translational medicine institutions.
During a conference call to discuss the company's third-quarter earnings this week, Reid said the company has been delivering "a huge amount of data" to its research customers, enabling them to mine the data according to their research goals.
The clinical market, on the other hand, will require a "fundamental redefinition of the delivered product," he said. Instead of providing large datasets, the company will need to reduce the data "all the way down to clinical reports that are simply actionable answers to clinical questions."
Reid said that the biggest obstacle for securing large contracts from translational medicine organizations — similar to the one it recently signed with the Inova Translational Medicine Institute (CSN 8/9/2011) — is not the price of its whole-genome sequencing service, which is currently on the order of $5,000 per genome or less, but in the lack of data analysis and storage capabilities at customer sites.
While genome sequence data is often "discarded" in the research space after the results are published, translational researchers "sequence patients and keep the data associated with the patient for multi-year longitudinal studies, and go back and mine the data over and over again," Reid said.
Unlike genome centers, which have their own data analysis capabilities, translational research centers "have to work with partners" to analyze and store the data, he said. "We see infrastructure barriers, not price or a desire to do genome sequencing on the cheap."
Still, Complete hopes that much of its future business will come from customers based in translational medicine, rather than basic research. "There are few basic researchers who have 10,000 samples," Reid said. "There are a lot of hospital networks with 10,000 patients."
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