Sony is forming a new company to focus on genome research with a view towards realizing personalized medicine and healthcare. The venture, currently called P5 Inc, is a collaboration with M3, a medical company in which Sony is the majority stakeholder, and Illumina, a US-based manufacturer of genome-sequencing equipment. News of the tie-up between Sony and Illumina, which will be a minority investor, was first reported by Jiji Press last year.
The medical sector is increasingly important to Sony
Sony refers to the collaboration as a "genome information platform." It will provide genome analysis services for enterprises and research institutions in Japan at first, as well as aggregating genetic data with other medical data. Sony expects the business to eventually expand to individual patients by providing the same mix of genome data and medical information to allow for personalized healthcare. Genome research can be used to develop new methods of treatment and identify the origins and likelihood of diseases.
The medical sector is an increasingly important area for Sony. New CEO and president Kaz Hirai announced plans to make it a core pillar of the company's business before taking over in early 2012, and Sony has since made major investments in the field. One such example is the $644 million spent on forming a medical imaging venture with Olympus, which the company said could push forward the development of technology such as 4K or 3D endoscopes.