Despite the financial conditions, companies developing next-generation genome sequencing technology have been able to raise significant amounts of money. In August, Complete Genomics raised $45 million while Pacific Biosciences raised $68 million. Don’t forget that Pacific Biosciences just raised $120 million in 2008. Both companies are pursuing the “holy grail” of genome sequencing, being able to sequence an entire human genome for less than $5,000. Keep in mind that the first human genome (Human Genome Project) took 13 years and $3 billion to sequence. See the recent article in Forbes for more on Pacific Biosciences.
While some people argue that sequencing the entire genome is not necessary, especially since 90% of the genome contains “junk” DNA, for less than $5,000, it doesn’t really matter. The initial customers for genome sequencing technology will likely be drug companies for use in clinical trials, but as costs decrease, consumers will eventually become the customer. Look at the success of companies like 23andMe.
A number of next-next-generation companies, pursuing complete genome sequencing for less than $1,000, are chasing the tails of Complete Genomics and Pacific Bioscienses. They include Halcyon Molecular, Genovoxx, Lucigen, Sequenom, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, ZS Genetics, Anvantome, and VisiGen.