Life Science Instrumentation: Microarrays Heat Up the Market

The life science instrumentation market grew 8.7% to $9.2 billion in 2007. The market consists of DNA and peptide sequencers, DNA and peptide synthesizers, nucleic acid amplification or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) systems, gel electrophoresis equipment, molecular biology purification kits, microarray-based products, biosensors, bioinformatics and cheminformatics, cell analysis technologies and in vivo animal imaging. The life science market is dependent on aftermarket products, such as reagents, kits and other consumables. In fact, the aftermarket accounted for over half of total life science market demand in 2007.

The life science market is the source of many cutting-edge technologies and perpetually solid growth. It accounts for the largest share of the analytical instrumentation market, particularly due to strong support from government programs, and major private and public research institutions.

The cell analysis market, which includes flow cytometers and high-content screening, was the largest segment of the life science sector in 2007, accounting for 19.1% of sales. This market is expected to grow 8.2% in 2008 due to solid growth in Europe and Asia Pacific and by robust growth in flow cytometry systems and reagents, particularly for cancer research and HIV/AIDS monitoring. Becton Dickinson and Beckman Coulter are dominant in the cell analysis market.

Nucleic acid–based technologies, such as PCR, microarrays and DNA sequencers accounted for 17.8%, 12.8% and 9.5%, respectively, of the market in 2007. Sales of PCR and microarray technologies are expected to grow 9% and 10%, respectively, this year. Applied Biosystems holds a commanding position in the PCR market, while Affymetrix and Illumina lead the microarray market.

Although the DNA sequencing market is expected to post modest growth in 2008, the market continues to be in flux. Installations of next-generation sequencers, which are faster and significantly less costly than capillary electrophoresis (CE)–based/Sanger sequencing methods, are entering the market in great numbers. However, many genomic centers have not yet abandoned their CE-based methods. Instead, genomic centers are using both old and next-generation sequencer technologies for different applications.

In 2007, the market for molecular biology prep kits, led by QIAGEN NV, accounted for 11.4% of the life sciences segment. This market is closely tied to nucleic acid analysis technologies and is used for both research and diagnostic applications. The molecular biology kit market is forecasted to grow 4.8% in 2008.

The in vivo animal imaging market accounted for only 3.5% of the life science market in 2007, but grew the fastest. Preclinical testing of potential drug compounds on animals, an important step in the drug discovery process, is driving growth. Although there are many traditional methods for determining biodistribution and other factors, these preclinical applications are increasingly performed with in vivo imaging. This market is forecasted to grow 21.5% over last year.

Informatics, synthesis and electrophoresis accounted for 10.1%, 8.1% and 7.6%, respectively, of the life science market in 2007. Growth in these markets will be modest this year.

Overall, the life science instrumentation market is fragmented, with many instrument manufacturers and aftermarket vendors and distributors. The top five vendors accounted for approximately 45% of total sales in 2007. Applied Biosystems is the leading life science company with about a 17% share of the market. Becton Dickinson and GE Healthcare combine for about a 16% share of the market, while Invitrogen and QIAGEN represent about 7% and 5% of the market, respectively.

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