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Life science instrumentation: dynamic growth.

Life science research has been the thrust behind the growth of the analytical instrument market over the last several years, resulting in new products, applications, markets and companies. These opportunities have revitalized revenues for many industry participants and fundamentally changed the analytical instrument business through renewed investor interest, technological advancements and the shifting focus and reorganizations of top companies.

In 2004, the life science instrumentation market grew 8.4%, significantly slower than the past. Nonetheless, life science instrumentation remains the largest segment of the analytical instrument industry, growing about $600 million per year. The life science instrument market includes DNA and peptide sequencers, DNA and peptide synthesizers, thermal cyclers and real-time PCR, gel electrophoresis, mini-prep products, microarray-based products, biosensors, bioinformatics and flow cytometers/cell analysis, as well as associated aftermarket and service revenues.

The impact of genomic and proteomic applications have been monumental to the drug discovery process. Discoveries in the genomics area are helping drug makers understand the dynamics of a disease at the genetic level. In addition, proteomic research, systems biology and biomarkers have become the forefront of life science and are providing vendors with a huge market to chase after.

These instruments are predominantly used by four end-user segments: academia, biotechnology, government and pharmaceutical research labs. Under enormous pressure to deliver new discoveries, genomic and proteomic researchers demand state-of-the-art technologies to replace or augment their current capabilities. The fastest growing product segments of the life science instrument sector are the microarray/biosensor and plasmid purification markets. Although not growing at as torrid a pace as once predicted, these technologies continue to post solid growth and together account for nearly 35% of the life science instrument market.

Microarray technology has certainly improved immensely since its birth about a decade ago. In fact, whole genome chips for major organisms are readily available for gene expression, genotyping and comparative genomics. The phenomenal acceptance of microarray technology has created opportunities for complementary techniques like electrophoresis, plasmid purification and nucleic acid amplification. Electrophoresis accounts for about 9.5% of the market and revenues are forecasted to grow slightly less than 9% in 2005.

Nucleic acid amplification sales grew about 11% in 2004, but are expected to falter somewhat, growing about 8% this year. Among the amplification techniques, application involving real-time PCR is expected to fuel growth for this technology. In addition, related aftermarket products and new assays help to stimulate demand. Interestingly, in March, the first of Applied Biosystems' PCR patents is set to expire, and the expiration of other related patents will follow over the next several years.

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology research investment has shifted somewhat from early-stage drug discovery to preclinical development and clinical trials. As a result, slower growth rates are expected for research tools such as synthesizers and sequencers. DNA synthesizers play a supportive role in labs to other technologies, including microarrays. In 2004, synthesizer sales grew about 7.3% and are expected to slow in 2005 to a growth rote of 6.5%. Sales of DNA sequencers, which were once the most dynamic instrument segment among life science techniques, are now expected to grow just 4.0%. Nonetheless, large genomics projects are still underway around the world, generating a steady aftermarket and reagent business.

The flow cytometry/cell analysis market has remained steady over the past several years with a growth rate between 7% and 8%. This pace should continue through 2005 and 2006 as it plays a more integral role in downstream drug discovery and pre-clinical research. Informatics and data analysis software have become vitally important. In 2004, the informatics market (excluding hardware systems) accounted for 12% of total life science instrument demand. However, its long sale and implementation cycles hinder its growth prospects to less than 5% in 2005.

The life science instrumentation market is quite fragmented with many instrument manufacturers and aftermarket vendors and distributors. Applied Biosystems continues to hold its leadership with about 19% share of the market. The next tier of companies, GE Healthcare, Becton Dickinson, Affymetrix and QIAGEN, combine for about 22% of the market. Although end-users tend to favor leading suppliers of products, the market is continually evolving, and there seems to be no shortage of new technologies, applications and opportunities.
Life Science Instrumentation 2004-05

 Market Share Growth Rate

Microarray/Biosensors 19.0% 9.8%
Nucleic Acid Amplification 16.1% 7.9%
Sequencing 12.2% 4.0%
Informatics 12.1% 4.8%
Flow Cytometry/Cell Analysis 12.1% 7.3%
Plasmid Purification 10.3% 9.5%
Electrophoresis 9.5% 8.8%
Synthesis 8.8% 6.5%
Total 100.0% 7.5%

2003-06 Total Global Life Science
Instrumentation Market

2003 7097
2004 7692
2005 8267
2006 8804

Note: Table made from bar graph.

2004 Supplier Market Shares

Applied Biosystems 19%
Others 59%
Qiagen 4%
Affymetrix 4%
Becton Dickinson 6%
GE Healthcare 8%

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 15, 2005
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