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Researchers Foresee 40 Percent Increase in Sequenced Human Genomes in 2013


Researchers in the genomics community expect to sequence more than 48,600 whole human genomes in 2013, a 40 percent increase over 2012, according to results from a survey conducted by GenomeWeb in collaboration with investment firm Mizuho Securities.

The survey, which assessed the opinions of 93 GenomeWeb readers at the end of the second quarter, asked respondents how many whole human genomes they believed would be sequenced in 2012 and 2013 and provided a range of answers between 15,000 and more than 50,000. The most common response for 2012, with 27 percent of the total, was 30,000; while the most common estimate for 2013, with 47 percent of the total, was more than 50,000.

The weighted average for 2012 and 2013 was 34,600 and 48,600, respectively.

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As in prior GenomeWeb/Mizuho surveys, next-generation sequencing was ranked highest among all genomic technologies for expected spending increases over the next 12 months. RNA-seq ranked second, while nanopore sequencing saw the largest increase in expected spending as compared to the average response over the previous four surveys.

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The survey indicated that researchers are slightly more likely than they were just three months ago to purchase a new NGS platform during the next 12 months, though the overall weighted response to this question is neutral in the current survey.

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Respondents indicated a similar level of agreement as in prior surveys that they would generate more sequencing data in 2012 than 2011, but fewer respondents agreed with the statement that there is a "glut" of sequencing data in the research community. This indicates that "data analysis is improving, a positive for the long-term growth of the industry," according to Mizuho analysts Peter Lawson and Eric Criscuolo.

Researchers believe that sequencing will eventually be medically driven rather than consumer driven. A year ago, the survey indicated that 56 percent of respondents believed personal/consumer applications would be the driving force behind sequencing within a five-to-10 year period. For the current survey, that figure dropped to 42 percent.

Lawson and Criscuolo conclude that this falloff is "likely driven by the slowing pace of price declines as well as greater understanding of the complexities of the genome and its associations."

Perhaps reflecting this greater understanding of the complexities of genome analysis, respondents to the current survey indicated that they would be willing to pay a maximum of $850 to get their genome sequenced, up from $700 reported in the second-quarter 2011 survey.

The 24-question survey, designed to assess general trends in the genomics R&D sector, was e-mailed to a subset of GenomeWeb readers comprising researchers in academic organizations, hospital or reference labs, and biopharmaceutical firms. Around 68 percent of the 93 respondents work in a government or academic setting.