Personalis (PSNL) Is Pioneering Population-Sequencing-as-a-Service

By Simon Barnett | @sbarnettARK

In a quarter of record revenue growth and new product launches, Personalis (PSNL) – a burgeoning deep genomics company – expanded on a new commercial opportunity: population genomics. Recently, many nations and health systems have begun sequencing large populations to unlock critical genomic information. Activated by machine learning, population genomic (“pop-gen”) data can provide health care experts and policymakers with information to help prevent the onset of disease, increase the efficiency of health systems, and improve the delivery of new therapies.

Using current projects as benchmarks, ARK estimates that the pop-gen market opportunity could scale to $4 billion during the next five years, though the barriers to launch such projects are formidable. While many countries have both the desire and the funding to get these ultra-high-throughput projects off the ground, they lack the genomics infrastructure and technological know-how. In other words, lower sequencing costs alone will not unlock the pop-gen market opportunity. As is the case with clinical sequencing workflows, the key barriers to widespread adoption include front-end sample preparation, laboratory process management, and back-end computation and storage.

Personalis is conducting the largest ongoing pop-gen project in the United States in collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”). Already it has sequenced the 75,000 of the 116,000 whole human genomes in the VA contract, giving Personalis the experience in process optimization necessary to establish sequencing centers around the globe.

Presently, Personalis is building a sequencing subsidiary in China alongside Berry Genomics. With proprietary technology and a track record of execution, Personalis could win pop-gen contracts with nations and/or large health systems seeking genomic insights about their populations at scale. While Personalis currently is laser-focused on advanced cancer profiling tools for biopharma customers, population health could be another exciting opportunity to build a foundation based on molecular information and enable biological discoveries and medical interventions during the next five to ten years.

Catherine Wood, ARK Invest CEO, is a shareholder of 24/7 Wall St. LLC.