The adoption of genome sequencing technology is rapidly expanding as medical centers around the world embrace its utility in informing healthcare decisions—an emerging reality of personalized medicine.
There are three important areas of technology that are driving the use of genomic data in healthcare: genome sequencing, genomic analysis tools, and database storage.
The first of these—genome sequencing—has advanced to the point that it is more widely accessible, with the cost of sequencing at nearly $1,000 or less. This lower cost of genome sequencing has reached a critical milestone to enable the use of sequencing as a mass-market product for medical care.
The second and third core genomic technologies—genomic analysis tools and database storage—are in the midst of evolution. Their progress and integration are critical for the next stage of adoption of genomic data into health care.
The rapidly evolving legs of the “3-legged stool” of genomics technology are genomic analysis tools and database storage.
- Genomic Analysis Tools: Since the human genome was first sequenced more than a decade ago, an increasingly robust body of research has showcased the links between mutations identified in the genome and disease risk. Informatics tools have been developed by medical centers and genomics companies to apply to whole-genome samples. Increasingly, these genome analysis tools will need to adapt to the steady pace of new genomic linkages to disease and to operate at a level approaching “big data.”
- Database Storage for Human Genomes: There are a growing number of robust databases of human genomes, including data for healthy people or those with certain diseases. When properly analyzed, these databases offer the potential to provide the medical community with a reference library against which to compare genetic data. Large-scale, high-quality databases are an essential element to cross-reference a patient genome to guide more informed medical decisions.
Recently, two leading genomics companies—WuXi and NextCODE Health—have combined their technology capabilities in these two areas. WuXi has industry-leading capabilities to analyze, store, and manage the vast amounts of genomic data. NextCODE Health brings a leading-edge system for sequence-based clinical diagnostic applications and genome analysis.
The combination of WuXi’s foundational genomic database storage and management and NextCODE’s sophisticated genome analysis tools will integrated the key components that are most rapidly evolving to apply genomics to medical care.
Initiatives like these advance the state-of-the-art in genomic analysis and database storage, bringing us to the heart of helping the world to fully harness personalized medicine and providing tools directly to doctors to provide better diagnostics and treatments to patients.
The progress to date has been amazing. Yet the opportunities ahead are even more extraordinary to improve the speed, accuracy, and accessibility of genomic information to improve human health.