Microfluidics innovation: Next-Generation Sequencing reshaping healthcare

Driven by a growing demand for precise and preventive diagnostic solutions, the NGS market is expecting to reach more than US$6.7 billion in 2028.

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) involves deciphering DNA/RNA nucleotide sequences, offering insights across diverse fields such as medical diagnostics, agriculture, environmental monitoring, and several other areas of scientific research.

Next-Generation sequencing’s impact on the global microfluidics market

NGS technologies based on microfluidics are part of a global microfluidic market of US$18.1 billion in 2022. According to the Status of the Microfluidics Industry 2023 report, estimated at US$4.4 billion in 2022, Yole Intelligence expects the market to reach US$6.7 billion in 2028, representing nearly 33% of the global microfluidics revenues. In its dedicated Next-Generation Sequencing 2023 report, the company, part of Yole Group, asserts that driven by the P4 medical strategy (Preventive, Predictive, Personalized, Participatory) and boosted by technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and data communications (5G), NGS technologies stand out as one of the most dynamic markets, with a 6.1% CAGR2022-2028.

NGS enjoys a broad spectrum of applications, such as oncology, genetic diseases, microbiology, cell analysis, reproductive health, non-invasive prenatal testing, and many more. Research centers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and biotechnology firms are now integrating these technologies into their daily operations. Technological advancements have fostered the widespread adoption of NGS thanks to the reduction in its costs in recent years. Furthermore, these advancements have resulted in improved accuracy, simplified and automated sample preparation processes, and enhanced data analysis methods, enabling the extraction of valuable information. NGS is evolving into a powerful and commonplace tool that is revolutionizing both clinical and research fields, receiving support from various public health agencies and government bodies.

Glass and silicon-based microfluidics modules and their role in advancing clinical diagnostics.

NGS has expanded its applications to various biomolecules, including DNA, RNA, and miRNA. Additionally, protein sequencing solutions entering the market are emerging as competitors to traditional mass spectrometry methods for protein characterizations. At the core of NGS technologies are microfluidic modules, commonly referred to as flow cells, which are typically based on glass and/or silicon wafer material. These wafers undergo microstructuring through semiconductor manufacturing processes like photolithography or UV-Nanoimprint Lithography (UV-NIL).
Glass-based flow cells, also called passive flow cells, offer advantages in terms of optical performance, exhibiting low fluorescence, high optical transmittance, and ease of functionalizing the surface. They enable microstructuring on a considerable active surface area, up to 7,000 mm². These NGS modules can be categorized as passive flow cells and represent nearly 98% of the annual volume of 8-inch wafer equivalents in the NGS market.

Silicon-based modules, known as active flow cells, incorporate technologies like CMOS Image Sensors (CIS), Ion-Sensitive Field Effect Transistors (ISFET), or nanopores. These technologies, integrated into the modules, have garnered significant interest in the NGS market. They add intelligence at the module level and typically cover active surfaces ranging from 50 to 400 mm². Notably, they eliminate the need for complex optical elements within instruments and facilitate the reduction of instrument sizes to a portable format. Leveraging semiconductor manufacturing techniques, these technologies also offer cost benefits as production volumes increase. The increasing capability, portability, and affordability of emerging technologies are paving the way for NGS to be utilized at the point of need in clinical diagnostics.

The emergence of challengers and collaborations in the NGS landscape is redefining market dynamics.

Historically, Illumina has been the dominant force in the NGS market, with a 67% market share in module-level revenues in 2022. However, emerging players such as Pacific Biosciences, Element Biosciences, Singular Genomics, and AxBio are making strides in the field with recent innovations, posing a potential challenge to the market dynamics in the short term. These new entrants are introducing innovations that could potentially disrupt the market. This strengthens the NGS ecosystem link to the manufacturing of NGS microfluidics flow cells around players in the semiconductor industry.

An increasing number of NGS industry players are forming collaborations with prominent diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies, a significant step toward advancing the application of NGS in clinical settings and personalized medicine. Among others, Illumina has recently announced partnerships with Roche, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Merck. Similarly, Thermo Fisher Scientific has started collaborations with AstraZeneca and Oncocyte. Oxford Nanopore Technologies has established partnerships with bioMérieux and Zheijang Digena Diagnostic Technology Co. Ltd (Digena).

These collaborations reinforce the robust position of NGS technologies as promising tools for oncology diagnostics and the development of companion diagnostics solutions for various diseases.

Yole Group continuously explores the microfluidics industry, monitoring global industry trends, point-of-need technologies, and advancements within the next-generation sequencing sector. These analyses offer comprehensive insights into the ecosystem and establish a strong correlation with the semiconductor industry.

About the author:

Clyde Midelet, Ph.D., is a Technology & Market Analyst in the Photonics & Sensing division at Yole Intelligence, which is part of Yole Group.
Clyde contributes daily to technology and market analyses and to the production of relevant reports. He is also involved in custom consulting projects at Yole Group. His expertise coverage includes various areas, such as microfluidics, sensing, MedTech, and combinations of these topics.
After completing his master’s degree in solid-state chemistry at Rennes University in France, Clyde pursued a Ph.D. at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Rennes in collaboration with the SATIE laboratory in France.
During his research experience in microfluidics, which led to various scientific papers, he developed a system for the electrical manipulation of gold nanoparticles for biosensing in vitro diagnostics. Additionally, he worked on an industrial project related to next-generation displays using quantum dot technology.

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