Healthcare company EZZ Life Science Holdings (ASX: EZZ) has announced plans to diversify into genomics and precision nutrition following its initial foray into over-the-counter dietary supplements last year.
Acting chief executive officer and co-founder Mark Qin said the company hopes to emerge as a key participant in the genomic sector.
“Throughout this year, our own-branded products comprised a range of health supplements and our future product development pipeline will increasingly feature healthcare solutions based on genomics research,” he said.
EZZ is increasing its interest in human papillomavirus (viral infection), helicobacter pylori (digestive bacteria), weight loss and longevity given the potential for these conditions to be addressed through genomic diagnostic and precision (or tailored) nutrition.
The study of genes
Genomics focuses on the study of genes plus the proteins required to read and maintain DNA, as well as the many particles that help store and give shape to it.
The genomic revolution has been powered by genome sequencing technology which reads DNA and can be instrumental in identifying inherited disorders, characterising genetic mutations which drive cancer progression, or tracking disease outbreaks.
Genomics has scientifically proven its abilities in the prevention, management and treatment of certain diseases.
The applications of genomic technologies offer opportunities to improve healthcare across areas including genetic diagnosis, personalised medicine and gene therapy.
Studies have shown that genetic testing can deliver insights into how a person’s body is functioning, and which dietary factors are best for an individual’s health needs.
Investment in the genomic industry
The field of genomics has advanced faster than any other life sciences discipline with innovation making a considerable difference in respect of gene editing, cancer detection, DNA sequencing, and agricultural biology.
An increase in government funding for genomics research has been driving the growth of the market. One of the most important global developments in the area has been the Human Genome Project – an international, collaborative research program which targeted the complete mapping and understanding of all the genes in the human body.
Led by the US government, the project kicked off in 1990 and culminated in the first complete sequencing of a human genome in 2000.
The project is believed to have launched the field of genomics, transformed medicine and given rise to the modern biotechnology industry.
In 2018, the US National Institute of Health provided $28.6 million via The All Of Us research program to establish three genome centres in the country.
Investors have also shown an increased interest in genomics stocks in the last decade as demonstrated by the MSCI ACWI Genomic Innovation Index, which has outperformed the benchmark by almost 50% since 2013. The index comprises about 250 companies working in the field of genomic innovation and returned more than 43% in 2020 alone.
The global genomics market is projected to reach $74.6 billion by 2025 from $31.3 billion in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19%.
Major factors behind the growth include increased government funding to support genomics projects, increased applications of next-generation sequencing (NGS) in cancer research, more application areas for genomics, and the entry of new players and start-ups into the market.
“Today, we can map a person’s DNA in only a few hours for about $1,000 [but] three years from now, [we expect] the cost will fall to around $100,” Mr Qin said.
“By 2025, it is projected that 100 million genomes will be sequenced… when that happens, it will open a whole new world of understanding and genomics will officially go mainstream.”