Big prize in genomics might reside in bioinformatics

Even with a one-cent price tag, a single sequenced genome doesn't provide much value to those in pursuit of personalized treatments. Yet when thousands of genomes are sequenced, there's a chance to glean valuable insights from the mountains of genomic data. And that is where future business opportunities in the genomics field await entrepreneurs, Forbes' contributor Ted Greenwald wrote.

Greenwald took some notes during the Oct. 3 speech by Raymond McCauley, chief scientist at Genomera, at Singularity University. As the price of sequencing a genome rapidly declines, outfits such as BGI have been building the capacity to sequence thousands of genomes in short order. When the cost of sequencing a genome was millions of dollars about a decade ago, one might have thought that the greatest business opportunity would be delivering the best sequencing technology. However, there could be even greater value in the analysis of the genome data using bioinformatics tools.

There are many businesses that have been piggybacking on available DNA data as opposed to providing sequencing machines, which have been a tough sell recently with limits on NIH funding. Companies such as software firm DNAnexus and personal genomics outfit 23andMe have found ways to provide products and services wrapped around vast amounts of gene information contained in large databases. 

"Find an exponential trend and hitch-hike on it," McCauley told the audience at SU, as quoted by Greenwald. "Don't be the guy who builds the sequencing machine that does a genome for a penny. Find useful ways to take advantage of that capability."

- read the piece in Forbes