Single cell genomics – Invaluable insights into studying heterogeneity, signaling, and stochastic gene expression; Market Overview

December 1, 2018

Single Cell Genomics is one of the most attractive high growth segments of life sciences research.  Since the dawn of genomics, samples have been analyzed in bulk, i.e. cells have been aggregated and the resulting genomic signatures have been averaged out across the cells to provide a single genomic signature across cell types thereby missing crucial information that may be unique to small minority of cells in a sample. A stark example of this is cancer diagnostics from tissue biopsies where often there are different cell types and clones in a sample that may show different genomic signatures and can often lead to misdiagnosis.   This heterogeneity and increasing awareness of it is driving the field of single cell genomics.

We are at a very early stage of innovation primarily being driven by single cells RNA Seq (as demonstrated by 10X Genomics).  Going forward there will be growth and demand for various other types of genomic measurements such as analyzing DNA, methylation signatures as well as looking at immune cells.

This study, conducted by Zaylan in 2018, provides an overview of the Single Cells Genomics market, its segments, growth potential, competitors, areas of unmet needs and future innovations.

Key trends/drivers of the SCG Market:

Generating new insights into complex biological systems

Growing recognition that cell systems are heterogeneous:

Much of our current knowledge is based on ensemble measurements. However, cell-to-cell differences are always present to some degree in any population of cells, and the ensemble behaviors of a population may not represent the behaviors of any individual cell. This type of analysis is key to understanding complex systems in fields as diverse as neurology, stem cell biology and cancer

Large-scale research initiatives and single cell core facilities:

Several government-sponsored single cell initiatives are driving the market, Human Cell Atlas (HCA) being the most noteworthy. Others include The Allen Brain Atlas, Brain initiative, HuBMAP, Microbial Dark Matter Project

A number of single cell genomics centers have been established in the U.S., Europe and Asia, with several research institutions establishing a dedicated SCG core.

High throughput capabilities and reduced cost of single-cell approaches make SCG more affordable:

Increased throughput capacity for isolation and preparation (capable of processing tens of thousands of single cells in parallel) with the availability of automated micromanipulation methods that use droplets or micromechanical valves in microfluidic devices. These advances reduce the cost of single-cell analysis by 500-fold.

Sequencing has become the method of choice in SCG:

Sequencing has become the dominant downstream application. Increased efficiency and throughput capabilities of single cell isolation, development of amplification techniques with improved efficiency and reduced bias, and creation of sample prep methods specifically designed for single cell sequencing are playing an instrumental role