Sony to enter genetic analysis business to bolster medical sector

August 29, 2013


Sony Corp. intends to make its medical sector a core part of its business through a foray into genome information analysis, according to sources.

Sony plans to establish a joint venture with Illumina Inc., the world’s largest gene analysis equipment maker, and its own group company M3 Inc. as early as October, the sources said. It would take on contracts to analyze blood samples provided by hospitals and other medical institutions.

The company also plans to accumulate analysis data separately from personal information of the patients, and sell it to pharmaceutical firms, research institutes and other establishments, the sources said.

Last October, Sony President Kazuo Hirai announced that his company will raise sales of its medical business from the current tens of billions of yen to 200 billion yen ($2.04 billion) by 2020.

Genome information analysis would give Sony’s medical sector expansion a burst of momentum. It is utilized in a rapidly expanding range of medical fields, such as predicting diseases a person is likely to develop.

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie made headlines in May by disclosing that she had undergone a double mastectomy to prevent likely carcinoma after genetic testing found she was at a high risk of contracting breast cancer.

Currently in Japan, genomic analyses are conducted mainly by the Riken national research institute in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, and other large research establishments.

A senior Riken official said an increasing number of companies will likely enter the genome analysis business.

“Genome analysis has become easier to conduct thanks to the introduction of more advanced equipment,” said Naoto Kondo, director of Riken’s Genome Network Analysis Support Facility.

M3, which has been supplying information on medical papers as well as other services for doctors, already has a number of established clients in Japan. Utilizing M3’s name recognition and solid customer base, Sony aims to receive as many orders as possible for its new business.

(This article was written by Yu Miyaji and Takashi Kamiguri.)

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