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20 September 2012
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The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and techniques based on this enzyme reaction, were advanced by Kary Mullis in 1983, for which he later received the Nobel Prize. Since then, it's use has surged and it is now the most widely used method in molecular biology, biochemistry and medicine. Applications for PCR are almost limitless and include sequencing, genetic fingerprinting, cloning, disease research, diagnostics, drug discovery, biomarkers, forensics, viral infections and many more. Such is the enormous power of this technique that some observers have made reference to two epochs in the life science field - "Before PCR" and "After PCR".
As a technique, PCR offers considerable practical benefits over many proteomics methods, and advances in computing and software continue to accelerate the development of new applications and the volumes of biological information PCR methods can generate. Bucking the economic trend, PCR continues to grow by more than 13% per years and by 2015 global markets are expected to exceed $27 billion. To put this into some kind of perspective, this is almost three times greater than the global markets for microarray, flow cytometry and mass spectrometry put together.
This report, which involved the participation of more than 700 global PCR end-users, invited them to describe the limitations of this technique. Surprisingly for scientists, who are renown for putting their laboratory techniques under great scrutiny, almost one third defied the question altogether by saying there were none, or very few. Evidently it is not the working principals of this technique that are occupying their thoughts. After all, PCR is, fundamentally, based on a simple enzymatic reaction that science has harnessed from Nature. Rather, minds are focused on how new PCR techniques can be developed and applied to today's most challenging problems, and made easier and faster.
From the early methods of the 1980s, PCR has taken off and today more than 50 techniques are in use. These are dominated by qPCR, RT-PCR, Hot Start, Multiplex and Taqman techniques. Going forward, these will see continued growth, as will other methods such as Long PCR, Nested PCR, Allele and Methylation-Specific PCR (MSP). These are some of the findings published in this report.
PCR is undoubtedly one of the most (if not thee most) dynamic technology areas in the life science field today. But while its capabilities appear almost limitless, there are many important challenges to overcome, not least in making it accessible to all. For many of those who participated in our study, this is the greatest problem of all, and ultimately comes down to cost and affordability.
PCR 2012, a global study involving the participation of 733 PCR end-users in 84 countries, was carried to take a closer look at market and technology developments in this field. It's findings provide a wealth of information relating to both current and emerging areas. We believe this study is one of the largest of its kind and was carried out to assist PCR developers, vendors and investors to better support current and evolving needs in this field, and to help scientists compare their own practices with others.
This study also looked at innovation in this field, where scientists are focused on the practical challenges that obstruct them in their "real world" use of this technique. Not surprisingly, important required innovations included sample preparation methods, as scientists seek to simplify and speed up methods, and remove substances that interfere with the underlying enzymatic mechanisms. Around 300 participants also reported on recent innovations (such as LAMP, microarrays and multiplexing) and others they anticipate will be important in their work over the next there years, such as digital PCR, low temperature PCR and whole genome sequencing.
This report, based on an analysis of prevailing and emerging market conditions in the PCR field. has been produced to assist marketing and sales, and the identification of new opportunities. It is the outcome of an extensive global study involving more than 600 experienced PCR users. It's findings provide a "focus on sales growth" to developers and vendors in the PCR field, and the changes that are driving these developments.
As part of this report, market areas outlined below have been analysed to provide information relevant to marketing and sales, new market opportunities, qualified sales leads, customer needs and future plans, competitive position, new and emerging applications, growing and declining areas and threats.
- Routine use: Use of PCR by end-users for running routine (developed and validated) PCR tests, the development or validation of PCR tests and for the qualitative discovery using PCR methods
- Companies: Purchases of PCR and related systems by end-users from more than 25 companies and anticipated PCR purchases by end-users from more than 25 companies over the next three years, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- PCR Methods: Current use of more than 30 PCR techniques by end-users and the anticipated use of these techniques by end-users over the next three years, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- PCR Application: Current use of 12 leading PCR applications by end-users and the anticipated use of these applications by end-users over the next three years, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- Preferred Companies: End-users' preferred companies in the PCR field, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- Products: End-users' preferred products (and associated companies) in the PCR field, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- Strengths: End-users' disclosures of the strengths of their preferred products in the PCR field, each ranked according to their competitive position.
- Weaknesses: End-users' disclosures of the weaknesses of their preferred products in the PCR field, each ranked according to their relative position.
- Current Financial Budgets: End-users' annual financial budgets for PCR studies.
- Current Budget Breakdown: The breakdown of end-users' PCR financial budgets in eight key areas, relating to their current expenditure on PCR products and activities.
- Future Budget Breakdown: The breakdown of end-users' PCR financial budgets in eight key areas, relating to their anticipated expenditure over the next three years, on PCR products and activities.
- Future Financial Budgets: End-users' anticipated changes (percentage increases or decrease) over the next three years, relating to their PCR activities
- Consumables: End-users' top three consumables, associated with their PCR activities.
- Quality Control Guidelines: End-users' adherence to established quality control guidelines or procedures, relating to the conduct of PCR studies.
- Current Challenges: End-users' disclosures on molecular types that present the greatest technical challenges to PCR analysis, together with the associated sample types (matrices), associated PCR methods and underlying reasons.
- Innovation: End-users' current needs relating to 12 key areas of required innovation in the PCR field, each ranked (on a scale of 1 to 10) according to their importance.
- Recent Innovations: End-users disclosures on the most important innovations relating to their use of PCR, over the last three years.
- Future Innovation: End-users' disclosures on what they anticipate will be the most important innovations in the PCR field, over the next three years.
- Biomarkers: End-users' application of PCR methods for the study of disease biomarkers, including molecular types and their clinical utilities.
- Organisations: End-users organisations include clinics or hospitals, government bodies, large international companies, research institutes, small and medium sized companies, universities and veterinary centres.
- Fields: End-users underlying fields include biotechnology, chemicals, clinical or hospital, defence, energy, environmental, food and drink, forensics, geology, government, healthcare, natural products, pharmaceuticals, research institutes, security and universities.
- Bioinformatics Software: End-users' disclosures on their preferred bioinformatics software, associated with PCR studies.
- Purpose: End-users' underlying reasons for using PCR analysis across 13 major fields (biotechnology, chemicals, clinical or hospital, defence, energy, environmental, food and drink, forensics, geology, government, healthcare, natural products, pharmaceuticals, research institutes, security, university), each ranked according to their relative importance.
- Study Samples: Study sample types analysed by end-users using PCR methods, each ranked according to their relative importance.
- Sample Preparation: The use of sample preparation methods by end-users for PCR studies, each ranked according to their importance.
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