Microarrays have big future in store

SNP market at about $400 million; in next 5 years to $1 billion.

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To date, microarrays for gene expression have made a profound impact in the pharmaceutical and biomedical worlds. Looking for­ward, information from newer microarray technologies such as CGH, ChIP-on-chip, splice vari­ants, and microRNAs, combined with gene expression data, can be applied to the drug discovery pro­cess enabling many exciting appli­cations, such as finding cures for infectious diseases, discovering the mechanisms involved in cancer and finding treatments with fewer side effects. This according to the new report, Beyond Expression Arrays: Emerging Applications for Genomic Microarray Technology, from Beachhead Consulting.
The SNP market is the furthest along this maturity path, with a current market at about $400 mil­lion and a potential for growth in the next 5 years to $1 billion.
"We expect the microarray mar­ket, not counting instrumentation and reagents, to continue healthy growth through 2009 with an addi­tional expectation of doubling from 2006 to 2009 to $1 billion," says Patricia Landers Gee, a market analyst at Beachhead. "Most of this growth will come from SNP rev­enues along with continued growth of traditional array applications and new technologies and applications. Our market model shows that the percentage of the array market attributed to SNP arrays in 2004 was approximately 17 percent."
Issues affecting adoption have been due to clinical sample quality and handling and the quality of the available high-density arrays, she notes.
"We expect this percentage to grow rapidly to approximately 45 percent in 2009 as these issues are overcome, and most espe­cially because many biomarker programs center on genotyping, particularly in oncology; the main driver being the effort to find SNP markers for specific tumor types to correlate with treatment," Gee says. She adds that price erosion and the establishment of more stringent FDA regulations could be a tempering factor.
"Of all the applications dis­cussed in this report, SNP profil­ing is the only one that has been widely adopted and it serves as a good model for the development and introduction of other technol­ogies," points out Richard Fisler, director at Beachhead.
"We believe that market growth can occur rapidly for companies that have taken the time to under­stand both the application and the workflow," he adds. "High-value technologies can be used through­out the discovery process, rather than only once as a specialty or complementary assay."
Companies involved in develop­ment of new applications must work closely with their target customers, namely pharmaceutical, biotech­nology and diagnostic research and development groups, to determine if and how to deliver these technol­ogies, the report notes.
In addition, while arrays are today part of many drug devel­opment projects, there is room for improved utility such as bet­ter solutions for cost, automation, high-throughput and data manage­ment. The next three years should demonstrate which applications will transition from research into routine use and application to large samples for profiling.

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