Saturday, May 24, 2008

personal genome service in China

by Beyond Lab

Last year my brother had chances to interact with several personal genomics companies in China. From his first hand experience, I briefly describe the situation of industrialization of personal genomics services in China. There seem to be some success in terms of marketing in this premature market.

There are about 4~5 private companies promoting sequencing genome for individuals. The most success one was established by several marketing experts. Among those are an editor China Daily news paper press, a marketing specialist (who is the president), a graduate student of Peking University (this is the only “scientist”), a novel writer, a lawyer. What's obvious from this combination is that they are good at marketing. In fact, according to them, they've sell up to 300 million Chinese Yuan of personal microarray genomic services in about one year last year. Their "success" also relies on another factor -- China has 1.4 billion people and the rich have too money to consume. Those rich people are keen to try new technology even if they don't understand it at all. This is called "fashion".

Their marketing strategy is massive media broadcasting and training workshops. They take advantage of the fact that so many people are looking for chances to make money and so many people can be easily talked into new things. So, they recruit a lot of distributors, who have to pay them a certain amount of money to join,to do the actual person-to-person marketing in hospitals and health related business areas. They are quite successful so far.

Another company takes a different approach. They collaborate with one academic organization to promote personal genomic services to children. Since children are parents' future and main focus, people are willing to pay for this kind of new things such as a microarray analysis if breast cancer related genes etc.

Still one more company is trying a governmental approach. The company director established some relationship with Department of Health of central government and persuaded the Department to develop a suggestive medical protocol for genetic testing in favor of this companies' product (one of which is similar to above breast cancer microarray). Once this protocol is distributed to hospitals, there will be doctors prescribe these related tests. How good is this approach? There is not enough data yet. But it is certainly interesting to follow up.

I don't know any company is providing SNP personal service in China as of now.

You may find some of these are special to China. But this is still the beginning of the field. Marketing of personal genome service is a challenge around the world.

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