Biotechnology Industry Review
Biomolecular Diagnostics News and its predecessor, Nano/Bio Convergence News cover the increasing use of molecular diagnostics in drug discovery, in medical diagnosis and genetic testing, in environmental testing, and in food safety. We present news items under topics such as: Biomarkers, Genomics, Proteomics, Microarrays, Imaging, Nanodiagnostics, Patents and Licensing, and Industry News.
For instance, in 2003, under the topic Biomarkers, we reported on Celera Diagnostics' discovery of several novel genetic markers associated with an increased risk for myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack. These will eventually join the natiuretic peptide assays by Roche Diagnostics and Biosite used to diagnose congestive heart failure, as molecular diagnostics becomes a standard part of cardiology.
Under Genomics, we reported that Cepheid's amplification technology was included in anthrax sensors that will be installed widely by the U.S. post office to protect postal workers. These sensors are the vanguard of what eventually will be widely distributed environmental molecular sensors that, in time, will outnumber security cameras, to protect us from not only from bioterror, but also from natural horrors like SARS, Nipah virus, avian flu, and environmental toxins.
Microarray News included NimbleGen Systems' introduction of a human whole genome long oligo array to measure the whole human transcriptome on a single chip. Not to be outdone, introduced the Mapping 10K Array for whole genome SNP analysis. Applied Biosystems Group, for its part, completed the development of the genetic variation map based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Over 150,000 SNP genotyping assays were used to characterize 180 DNA samples from African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, and Japanese individuals to create a human genome-wide genetic variation map.
Nanodiagnostics is starting to make a big splash. Evident Technologies commenced shipment of its EviTags quantum dot labels for biotechnology applications. The water-soluble dots come in five colors with two different reaction groups for conjugation. Quantum Dot Corp also released quantum dot reagents for molecular assays and was involved as a collaborator in a number of spectacular studies that used quantum dots as stable fluorescent tags in living cells and organisms. As of March 2004, Quantum Dot reported that it has over 1,000 customers for these interesting reagents worldwide.
Under Industry News, we reported on the continuous consolidation in the diagnostics industry. One of the more interesting mergers was GE Medical's purchase of Amersham plc, in recognition that molecular imaging will be increasingly important as a diagnostic modality. Roche Diagnostics bought out IGEN International in a not-exactly-friendly transaction. Roche determined that it was easier to buy IGEN outright than to pay all the royalties it would owe after a U.S. Court of Appeals decided in IGEN's favor in a patent infringement suit. Invitrogen continued its acquisition binge, gorging itself on Molecular Probes and Genicon Sciences, among others.
Looking forward, we predict continued success for the molecular diagnostic industry. Never in the history of the world have so many chronically ill people walked the planet. And most of us are getting older. Demographics and explosion of proteomic and genomic information concerning disease states are the major dynamics that are driving the industry.