research and there has been a Cambrian-like explosion in start-ups on both sides of the Atlantic, with an ability to sequence genomes and understand its implications on medical treatments advancing at breakneck speed. Such companies include Roche, based in Switzerland, which has won approval for its drugs for A decade later, there are
genomes is not solely of interest to those looking at human medicine: the agricultural industry on both sides of the Atlantic is forging ahead with new techniques to build disease-resistant plants. These advances are
days using tests that cost less than $1,000 per genome. It Venlo in the Netherlands, is already developing genetic ests for a range of conditions, including some forms of genome and X Prize co- genomics – which promises pioneered a genetic test for fungal allergies. Meanwhile, A quick, cheap and reliable ups such as Ion Torrent are
treating certain types of growing signs that those will, says Craig Venter, the researcher who led the effort to first sequence the human new healthcare industry is emerging – based on chairman, “be the impetus o truly usher in the era of personalised medicine”. across the pond, US start- There is still much work ouching distance
melanoma. Qiagen, based in predictions are beginning to bear fruit. A vibrant
cancer. UK-based Lab21 has to provide treatments tailored for individuals based on their genes. method of sequencing people’ within ts genomes will provide the bedrock for thanks to improvements in personalised medicine, giving medics the insight in to how individuals’ genetic
of the $1,000 genome, sequencing technology.
to be done before we can expect to have made-to- measure medicines. Therein lies the thrill for many working in the field. This
complemented by the burgeoning use of bioinformatics – computing technology able to interrogate vast biological datasets. The UK government is convinced that Europe can play a leading role in the field, pledging a £75m investment in the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge. The Institute is set to become the nerve centre of the pan-European ELIXIR network, an umbrella organisation to safeguard and the masses of data being generated by publicly-funded biological research.
make-up may influence their predisposition to suffer from a variety conditions or experience adverse reactions to certain chemicals. It promises radical improvements in medicine, delivering more effective treatments and with fewer side effects. Across Europe and the US, established pharmaceutical companies have poured fortunes into genomic
A VIBRANT NEW HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY IS EMERGING, BASED ON GENOMICS
fervour is encapsulated in the Archon Genomics X Prize competition – where a $10m purse will be handed to first team to accurately sequence the whole genome of 100 subjects within 30
Archon Genomics X Prize competition ELIXIR network
European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge Ion Torrent Lab21 Qiagen Roche
Jared Simpson is a bioinformatics PhD student at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. His aim is to devise new mechanisms to decode genomes. The Sanger Institute is one of Europe’s preeminent research organisations, focused on understanding the role
At Lab 21, a healthcare diagnostics start- up based in Cambridge, UK, chief scientific officer Berwyn Clarke has one overriding goal: to develop a simple test that could be given to a baby at birth that would establish which drugs they can use safely and effectively for the rest of their lives.
Genomics can be summarised as the study of the role genetics plays in health and disease – for both plants and animals alike. The field of personalised medicines is based on the efforts to untangle the human genome, and unpick the genetic roots of global health problems
Company focus: Lab 21
What is genomics?
Other Europe-based genomics experts
Meiogenix SAS is a Paris-based biotech company that is developing SpiXTM, a patented technology that accelerates the natural process that introduces genetic diversity from parent organisms, thus enabling faster and more efficient generation of new and natural varieties.