What’s the science behind genomics?

The rise of genomics and precision medicine are expected to fundamentally change how health care is understood and delivered.

Director of Research, Global X ETFs

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There are several segments within the genomics field that stand to benefit from trends fueling genomics’ disruption of health care. This piece offers a deep-dive into the specific technologies and scientific practices shaping the growth of this rapidly emerging industry.

Genome Sequencing: is the process of determining the exact order of one’s DNA. Estimates suggest that the global DNA sequencing market is expected to reach US$25.5 billion in 2025. There are currently three common sequencing types available: SNP genotyping, whole exome sequencing (WES), and whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Computational genomics and genetic diagnostics: uses computational and statistical analysis to decipher biological insights from genome sequences and related data. The global computational biology market is expected to value US$6.8 billion in 2024, up from US$2.3 billion today. With increased volume of genetic data, data sharing, and improved reliability and validity of statistical models, computational genomics should help identify new treatment entry points and improve understanding of individual risk factors.

Development and testing of genetic medicines and therapies: seeks to detect, cure or treat diseases by identifying and/or modifying an organism’s gene expression or functioning. Gene expression is an important concept here because it describes the processes by which DNA dictates our biological functions, often through protein signalling pathways. Gene therapies are commonly delivered via a bone marrow transplant. Estimates suggest the gene therapy market should grow to US$4.4 billion by 2023, up from just US$584 million in 2016 with an impressive CAGR of 33.3%.

Gene editing: inserts, deletes or replaces DNA at a specific site in the genome of an organism. While gene editing is often categorised as an extension of gene therapy, gene editing focuses on directly changing an individual’s DNA in the afflicted location, whereas gene therapy may use treatment options that affect gene expression pathways but do not alter DNA. Both types of solutions should complement each other given the diversity of genetic drivers of disease. Estimates suggest the gene editing market should reach US$7.5 billion by 2024, up from US$3.0 billion in 2017 with a CAGR of 14.5%. This number is expected to grow significantly if the treatment methods tested in clinical trials receive positive results and regulatory approval.

Biotechnology: given the foundational role of genes in human biology, there are many synergistic opportunities with other parts of the biotechnology industry. Stem cell research and regenerative medicine, combined with advances in genomics, could help improve the effectiveness of tissue and organ transplants, for example.

The rise of genomics and precision medicine are expected to fundamentally change how health care is understood and delivered. Human biology’s rapid convergence with big data, advanced analytics and scalable computing power should offer unprecedented insight into how diseases of all kinds afflict mankind, and even more importantly, how they may be prevented. From the use of new therapies to altering our own DNA, genomics’ far-reaching potential to transform health care creates a compelling thematic investing opportunity.

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What’s the science behind genomics?