The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in the ability to isolate and characterize single cells – leading to advances in diagnostics, drug discovery, stem cell biology, cancer, and many other areas of biomedical research.
These advances have arisen thanks to growing capabilities in various single cell “omics” technologies – which have enabled RNA and DNA sequencing on a genome-wide scale (the interrogation of proteins, metabolites, and many other types of molecules that provide information about cellular growth, differentiation, and the underlying molecular basis of disease).
And why has single cell technology become so attractive within the biomedical research community? Because most studies are currently hampered by sample heterogeneity.
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Tags: biotech, companion diagnostics, diagnostics, DNA sequencing, healthcare, single cell biology
Posted in biomedical research, Diagnostics, Our Views | 1 Comment »
There appears to be a full-scale race underway to bring affordable next-gen DNA sequencing into diagnostics and clinical medicine, as demonstrated over the past week or so by Roche’s hostile $5.7 billion-dollar bid for Illumina. Roche’s move should come as no shock. The multi-national healthcare giant has been a leader in diagnostics by virtue of several earlier acquisitions. But this action signifies a formal acknowledgment that next-gen sequencing will be part of the diagnostic and clinical toolbox—perhaps sooner than we thought.
Roche’s aggressive move may be motivated by an optimism that arose from whole genome-sequencing on the individual level. We noted this rising tide of optimism early last year, and many advances have been reported since then. We’re certainly seeing many examples of the application of next-gen sequencing to diagnose disease and to help match the right drugs to the right patients. Examples of companies that are staking claims over the early application of targeted sequencing of specific panels of genes for diagnostics include our client Multiplicom, which develops CE-marked, multiplexed PCR kits to generate templates for next-gen sequencing, and Foundation Medicine, which is using targeted sequencing to help diagnose certain cancers and to guide the treatment of cancer patients.
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Tags: diagnostics industry, DNA sequencing, illumina, next-gen DNA sequencing, Roche, sequencing industry, universal DNA sequencing
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Now that the Molecular Med Tri-Con 2011 has ended and attendees are back at their offices, labs, practices, and/or hospitals – or perhaps have landed at their next business meeting or conference destination – it’s a good time to reflect on some of my general observations from the event.
The conference covered so much information that it would be impossible to review every topic. Following are a few areas that captured my attention and remain in my thoughts:
- STEM CELLS – There was a lot of focus on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), in particular how to better characterize and understand those cells. Pluripotent stem cells can differentiate, or change, to become any one of the many types of cells that make up an organism. These cells are already being used for applications such as drug testing and drug screening. Once they are induced to re-differentiate, iPSC can provide good models for disease: what some conference speakers referred to as a “disease in a dish.” Some discussion among presenters focused on the idea of isolating cells from patients, producing iPSC, and then reintroducing the produced cells into the patient to replace cells that have been damaged or lost as a result of disease – an elegant form of cell-based therapy. Although widespread use of this approach is likely a ways off, I’m both optimistic of the therapeutic potential and somewhat cautious because of regulatory hurdles and potential safety issues (including some data showing tumor production in animals). Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: circulating tumor cells (CTC), DNA sequencing, gordon e. moore, informatics, intel, ion torrent, life technologies, molecular med tri-con 2011, moore's law, personal genomics, stem cells
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