The number of genomics companies has mushroomed from the time the Human Genome Project completed its groundbreaking work in 2003. Many now believe a new era of discovery and advancement is forthcoming in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine. This is reflected by the huge amounts of capital that have been flowing into genomics companies recently - Complete Genomics and Pacific Biosciences both went public in 2010, raising approximately US$54,000,000 and US$200,000,000, respectively. During the time since they've gone public, however, their share prices have languished. The tide of this fortune may change with the hostile takeover bid for Illumina launched by pharmaceutical behemoth Roche in January 2012 for close to US$6 billion.
Advances in sequencing technology over the past several years has driven down the cost of human genome sequencing dramatically. It's currently available for as little as US$9,500. This cost is expected to decline further in the future as companies race to become first to offer full human genome sequencing for US$1,000 - also known as "the 1K Genome".
Profiles of some of the more prominent genomics companies are set out below.
Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN)
Illumina, Inc. is a publicly traded developer, manufacturer, and marketer of integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function. It provides a line of products and services that serve the sequencing, genotyping, and gene expression markets. Its customers include genomic research centers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organizations, and biotechnology companies. Illumina develops and commercializes sequencing technologies used to perform a range of analyses, including de novo sequencing, whole genome re-sequencing, gene expression analysis, and small RNA analysis. Its product and service offerings also include solutions for single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, copy number variation (CNV), deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation studies, gene expression profiling, and low-multiplex analysis of DNA, small ribonucleic acid (RNA), and protein.
Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ: HGSI)
Human Genome Sciences is a commercially focused biopharmaceutical company. The Company has three products in late-stage clinical development: BENLYSTA for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ZALBIN for chronic hepatitis C, and raxibacumab for inhalation anthrax. In July and November 2009, the Company reported that BENLYSTA successfully met its primary endpoints in two Phase III clinical trials in patients with systemic lupus. In March 2009, the Company reported that ZALBIN successfully met its primary endpoint in the second of two Phase III clinical trials in chronic hepatitis C. HGS submitted a biologics license application (BLA) for ZALBIN in the United States in November 2009, and Novartis submitted a marketing authorization application (MAA) under the brand name JOULFERON in Europe in December 2009. The Company received confirmation from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2010, that the BLA submission was accepted for filing.
Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (NASDAQ: PACB)
Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (PacBio) was founded with the goal of developing a Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT™) approach for nucleic acid sequencing. This concept was initially developed at Cornell University in the Laboratories of Watt Webb and Harold Craighead. Cornell has been a preeminent world leader in nanotechnology research for more than 25 years, and leads the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN)—an integrated partnership of 13 facilities. In 2005, the NHGRI (National Human Genome Research Institute) of the NIH (National Institute of Health) established two major grant programs to facilitate the development of technologies that would enable the sequencing of a human genome at significantly less cost than is possible today. Two categories of grants were established: one for the development of technology that promised to enable sequencing of the human genome at a cost of $100,000, and a second category for the $1,000 genome. The NHGRI awarded PacBio an Advanced Sequencing Technology Award grant of $6.6 million for development of technology leading to the $1000 genome, the largest grant of any company applying at any level.
Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: LIFE)
Life Technologies Corp. is a biotechnology tools company. The Company delivers a range of products and services, including systems, instruments, reagents, software, and custom services. Its range of products includes technologies for capillary electrophoresis based sequencing, sequencing, patient care report (PCR), sample preparation, cell culture, ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference analysis, functional genomics research, proteomics and cell biology applications, as well as clinical diagnostic applications, forensics, animal, food, pharmaceutical and water testing analysis.
Knome (“nohm”) is a privately-held company that provides whole genome sequencing and interpretation solutions to biomedical researchers and physician-directed families seeking to understand the genetic underpinnings of human disease. Led by internationally recognized scientists, clinicians and bioinformaticians, Knome has been responsible for sequencing and analyzing more human genomes than any other company in the world.
23andMe, Inc. is a privately-held company dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information using recent advances in DNA analysis technologies and web-based interactive tools. 23andMe enables individuals to gain deeper insights into personal ancestry, genealogy and inherited traits. 23andMe was founded in April 2006 by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki. The name 23andMe refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up each individual's genome. 23andMe connects individuals to their unique, paired set of 23 chromosomes.
Navigenics is a privately-held company that combines advances in genomics and technology to improve health outcomes across the population by providing clinically actionable genetic insights to motivate behavior change. The company was founded in 2006 by David Agus, M.D., an oncologist, and Dietrich Stephan, Ph.D., a human geneticist, with the overall goal of improving personal health. Our clinically guided genetic testing services were born out of scientific discoveries initially made possible by the Human Genome Project.
Pathway Genomics is a privately held personal genomics company based in San Diego, California. Using DNA genetic testing technologies, the company conducts services to generate personalized reports about an individual’s carrier status, drug (medication) response, propensity for the development of certain complex diseases, as well as ancestral history. The company provides these personal genetic reports to physicians and their patients.
Complete Genomics, Inc. (NASDAQ: GNOM)
To Complete Genomics, Inc., order is everything. A life sciences company, Complete Genomics provides outsourced human DNA-sequencing services to US biotechnology companies, research organizations, and universities. Customers mail in organic samples to Complete Genomics, which in turn sequences the samples' DNA using a proprietary sequencing platform (In essence, it produces a "map" of a DNA strand by determining the order of the nucleotides in the strand.). The company then provides an electronic record of the results to its customers, who use the information for disease research or drug discovery purposes. Founded in 2005 by CEO Clifford A. Reid and other investors, Complete Genomics went public on November 11, 2010.