Genetic sequencing (also known as NGS or Next Generation Sequencing) is a $10B market and a key enabling technology for a large number of medical science and bioengineering fields. Tsingyuan has made a number of significant bets around genetic sequencing technologies. In addition to the sequencers themselves, we invested in both the upstream technology (eg, Namocell, a pioneer in single cell sorting) and downstream application (eg., Mission Bio for high-throughput single cell DNA analysis and Modular Bioscience for high sensitivity liquid biopsy and disease genetic analysis).
We think that NGS technology will change the world and will underpin one of the world’s most valuable markets. It also perfectly fits our investment theses: It is truly cross disciplinary technology as it involves molecular biology, biochemistry, nano-technology, microfluidic, optics, bioinformatics, software and more. We believe this enables fast, easy and low cost genetic sequencing in the clinical (treatment) and personal (wellness) space that is going to grow exponentially. It is also truly cross-border as it is the enabling technology for genomics applications everywhere. As an infrastructure product, the winners tend to capture significant market share in most if not all major countries.
The current market leading solution is expensive, costly to operate, and slow to generate results. Therefore it is primarily being used for research purposes. Quantapore’s proprietary technology can detect a single DNA molecule’s optical signal when it is interacting with a protein nanopore. Their biochip contains hundreds of thousands of such nanopores per chip that each read a fragment of DNA in parallel. This novel approach achieves long-read DNA sequencing at unprecedented speed, accuracy and cost. They have also made breakthrough innovations in biochemistry such that sample preparation becomes a quick single step, eliminating another major hurdle.
Why is speed and cost important? Comprehensive genetic sequencing (not the ancestry test that only checks a few genes) still costs thousands of dollars. The high cost is a major barrier hindering large scale consumer and clinical adoption and therefore the critical mass of data for developing treatment and wellness models.
The clinical and personal use cases also require answers to come back much more quickly — within an hour or so rather than the typical response time of days or more currently. This enables treatment and adjustment to be made rapidly, especially in some of fast moving diseases.
Significantly lower cost and faster speed also enable brand new use cases such as continuous monitoring of cancerous cells via capturing and sequencing of genetic fragments flowing through the bloodstream, and periodic monitoring of the health and diversity of one’s gut bacteria (microbiome).
In this case, cost and speed is the difference between a multi billion dollar research market and a hundred billion dollar market that penetrates every aspect of diagnosis and treatment.
Genomics holds the key to conquering the most feared human diseases. Genomics is also nature’s most elaborate and time tested “software code” that holds the fundamental secret to all lifeforms. We are really excited to be part of Quantapore’s journey.