The "DNA" Market: From Heritage Kits to Pharma
DNA Sequencing Technology Advances: Major Players and Market Value
Advances in DNA sequencing technology allow for faster and cheaper genome sequencing. Sequencing by synthesis is one of the most common NGS techniques currently being used and is explained by Illumina here: https://youtu.be/fCd6B5HRaZ8. Genotyping, or probing for specific DNA variations, allows for faster throughput and lower cost than complete sequencing. The increasingly cost-effective sequencing techniques paired with the expanding applications of DNA databases are major reasons why the DNA sequencing market was valued at $5 billion USD in 2016. According to a recent market research report from Allied Market Research, the global market value for DNA Sequencing is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) near 20% and is expected to reach $18 billion by 2023. The largest segment of DNA sequencing applications is currently Biomarkers and Cancer, followed by diagnostics, reproductive health, personalized medicine, and others. The major companies leading platform development, consumable manufacturing, and services include Adaptive Biotechnologies, Agilent Technologies, BGI, Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific and more.
In addition to new sequencing techniques, bioinformatics approaches have been instrumental in the advancement of next generation DNA sequencing interpretation and convenience. For more information, refer to Bioinformatics for Clinical Next Generation Sequencing by Oliver et al.
Developing substantial DNA Databases
As DNA sequencing technologies have become more cost-effective, several companies including 23andMe, Ancestry, and National Geographic have begun consolidating large DNA databases by selling "at home" DNA kits with a consent option to allow your DNA to be used for medical research. These kits provide instructions and materials needed to send in saliva samples for DNA sequencing. After submitting your sample to the company, they utilize genotyping techniques to provide a variety of information that has predominantly been focused on heritage, but is now expanding into health services. As DNA databases expand and bioinformatics approaches continue to develop, the precision of your heritage and health results are improving. Therefore, some companies offer updated heritage results over time. In addition to building DNA databases through for-profit heritage kits, the NIH's All of Us research program aims "to gather data from one million or more people living in the US to accelerate research and improve health." The NIH option is a non-profit alternative that aims to form DNA databases not skewed by populations likely to purchase these kits.
Leveraging DNA Data into Pharmaceutical Development Deals
Many of the for-profit DNA kits ask consumers if they will allow their data to be used for medical purposes. Selecting yes turns over rights of your DNA to the company for future use outside of your results. 23andMe has recently leveraged their rapidly expanding DNA database collection into a deal worth $300 million in equity investment with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to "identify novel drug targets, tackle new subsets of disease and enable rapid progression of clinical programmes." Deal terms and goals can be found on GSK's website through reference link five. One specific aim of the collaboration is to use LRRK2 mutational status data when planning clinical trials for GSK's LRRK2 inhibitor in Parkinson's disease treatment.
Privacy and Ethical Concerns
As DNA databases grow, so does the concern over privacy protection. Several companies such as 23andMe have released statements illustrating steps being taken to protect their customers' information. In addition to the concern of DNA information theft, ethical questions have been raised given the use of DNA in forensics without consent. This issue was brought to mainstream attention given the arrest of the Golden State Killer in California. Finally, DNA data is also being used to make decisions on some types of insurance policies raising additional ethical questions and new policy development.