Stay Informed: Are You Paying Attention To Bioinformatics?

Last month, I told you about President Obama’s allocation of $215 million to the “Precision Medicine Initiative,” which will dramatically reduce the cost of sequencing a single human genome, making cancer and other infectious diseases much cheaper to combat.

At the heart of this venture is an interdisciplinary field called “bioinformatics,” which develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data. It’s some cutting-edge stuff.

But Obama’s not the only one on board with funding this new field…

Bioinformatics has come a long way since Margaret Oakley Dayhoff pioneered the field in 1966 when she published one of the first protein sequence databases using 1960’s computer hardware the size of a bus. To put this in perspective, your digital watch has more processing power than that.

Fast forward to 2015.  DNA sequencing technology has broken Moore’s law in development speed leveraging advanced computing platforms, and is now quickly transitioning from the laboratory out into the mainstream market.  The cost to sequence a single person’s genome is now 1,000 times cheaper than it was in 2000.

This landslide technology breakthrough is quickly gaining the interest of sage venture capital investors.  In 2014, genomic tech companies saw nearly a 50% rise in the number of venture investments, and a doubling of capital, rising from $286M in 2013 to $687M in 2014.

However, the most notable venture investment in this field in 2015 actually came from a non-profit organization.  You’ve probably heard of it: It’s named after the same guy who started a little company in 1975 called Microsoft.

That’s right, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation invested $76 million — its largest investment to date — in a company called CurVac, which is also leveraging the major advances in bioinformatics to engineer mRNA for therapeutic vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases.

We are at a tipping point in history for leveraging bioinformatics. Soon, we will be able to develop custom DNA-based precision medicine to cure the world’s most horrible diseases.

As always, I will continue to monitor the market’s latest health and biotechnology trends via my social media collective intelligence tool and keep you updated on the latest.

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