Clinical laboratories are an important part of the healthcare diagnostics industry, as these lab services play an integral role in diagnosing and treating illnesses. Genetic testing is one area of the lab service and diagnostic market that is expected to grow in the next few years, spurred on by the increasing interest in Next Generation Sequencing. As a result, we will see a growing demand for genetic counselors and genetic scientists.
Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, started out as a pure research exercise but scientists are now applying this technology to identify markers for a variety of cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer. NGS is a sequencing technology that allows scientists to sequence a human genome in less than a day. This is revolutionary because earlier methods took years to sequence an entire human genome. The biggest advances in genome sequencing have been increasing speed and accuracy, resulting in reduction in manpower and cost. The speed is thanks to parallel analysis and high throughput technology. It’s the difference between getting a 4 year-old to read Moby Dick and giving a paragraph each to a bunch of drama majors and asking them to read at once.
As we learn from NGS to identify the type of cancer by analyzing blood versus tissue, oncologists are able to get more personalized and specific in the way they diagnose and treat these cancer patients. This has unlocked the door to another level of granularity in both diagnosing and treating very specific types of cancer or disease. Doctors can now use a more targeted treatment instead of a general cocktail of chemotherapy drugs that, when used in the past attacked and killed off both the good cells along with cancerous cells. Using a more targeted treatment allowed by NGS, we are starting to see much higher success rates in treating disease.
Major companies, such as Genomic Health, Invitae, and Caris Life Sciences are at the forefront of creating technology that will have a “disruptive but positive” impact on healthcare treatment. NGS is a significant part of this disruption. Many companies are also working on lowering the barriers of genetic testing by reducing the cost to patients. As NGS becomes more widely used and less expensive to implement, the technology will expand and grow.
The growth of the genetic testing market will lead to an increase in the demand for genetic counselors and genetic sciences, who will be needed to analyze and explore the world of NGS. The genetic counseling market is expected to grow 26% between 2016 and 2026. The average rate across all careers is around 7%. Since modern medicine increasingly focuses on genetic science, the need for genetic specialists will continue to increase in the foreseeable future.
Next Generation Sequencing will be one of the exciting, major areas of the lab services and diagnostics market that is expected to grow substantially in the next five years. The technology can be used to identify markers for many different diseases, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and sickle cell. As this technology becomes more commonplace, companies will need to hire more genetic counselors and genetic scientists to perform these tests and explore the potential uses of this technology.
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