Genomics - An Opportunity For Growth And Differentiation For The UK Life Science Industry?

Author:Ms Elizabeth Hampson

On 29 September a report on the Genomics industry in the UK which we had prepared for the Office for Life Sciences was published. The report looks at the size, growth trends and industry composition of the market and provides insight into the potential drivers, challenges and opportunities facing the industry in the UK.i This blog highlights some of the key trends in human genomics, the development of the emergent UK market and the barriers that will need to be overcome if the benefits to the UK are to be fully realised.

Genomics is a relatively new branch of science and has grown as a result of scientific breakthroughs in recent decades. Genomics uses DNA sequencing techniques and bioinformatics to sequence, assemble and analyse the function and structure of genomes (the complete set of DNA within an individual). Knowledge of an individuals' genetic make-up can help determine their predisposition toward certain genetic diseases, inform the best course of treatment and contribute to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for specific diseases (precision medicine). These advanced developments have only recently become a possibility due to an exponential decline in sequencing costs, faster processing techniques and large scale government and pharmaceutical industry investment.

Genomics is a fast-growing and highly dynamic industry and, while estimates vary, the global genomics market is currently valued at around £8 billion. The general consensus is that market will grow rapidly (with an annual growth rate of 15 per cent), driven by the falling cost of sequencing, growing investment from pharmaceutical companies and a plethora of national and international projects . Such projects include the Human Genome Project, the Saudi Human Genome Project and the UK's 100,000 Genomes Project.ii

Indeed, the 100,000 Genomes Project, which was launched with some £200 million of public sector investment, is providing the UK with a key competitive edge. By working in partnerships with industry, who are themselves investing significantly in genomics, it is seen by investors and industry experts as a significant step forward for the UK genomics industry.

The research identified the genomics value chain, the process by which genomics samples are transformed into useable information to develop treatment or improve patient care, as comprising five stages:

sampling: the process of extracting, cleansing and transporting DNA samples (e.g. blood or...

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