Illumina's New Deal in NGS

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With an aim to develop improved infrastructure and networking tools for the interpretation and reporting of genetic sequencing data, Illumina Inc. (ILMN), a major developer of life science tools for large-scale genetic analysis, formed a strategic association with Partners HealthCare, a healthcare system developed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

These tools will combine the functionality of Illumina’s MiSeq sequencing system and Partners’ GeneInsight Suite (an IT platform used to streamline the processing of complex genetic test results) in order to develop the base for a comprehensive sequencing and clinically relevant reporting solution. 

This combined MiSeq-GeneInsight solution will connect Illumina’s BaseSpace cloud computing platform and MyGenome app for iPad, with a clinical lab’s local laboratory information system (:LIS). Illumina claims that this solution will create smooth workflow starting on MiSeq and delivering results directly into the GeneInsight tool providing accurate data interpretation. The company expects this collaboration to create a new standard in Next Generation sequencing (NGS) in clinical-based applications.

At the start, both the companies intend to release the integrated tool to a limited number of pilot customers in pilot sites like a selected group of reference laboratories within leading academic institutions, molecular and genetic pathology laboratories and commercial reference laboratories. Illumina will also use the GeneInsight Lab application in its CLIA-certified sequencing laboratory to support the operation.

Illumina made significant developments in its MiSeq platform. The company expects to submit the MiSeq platform to the FDA for 510(k) approval before 2012 end. Recently, the company launched TruSight content sets for targeted sequencing, designed for use in NGS. Earlier in March, the company launched TruSeq Amplicon, a cancer panel for MiSeq system to aid researchers in the identification of the sequence of cancer loci. This is significant since it makes sequencing possible even in difficult samples such as formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (“FFPE”) tumor samples.

The company also entered into a partnership with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics to use the MiSeq platform for Siemens’ molecular HIV tests. Furthermore, the company expanded its Genome Network with the inclusion of the British Columbia Cancer Agency to its existing list. Illumina experiences tough competition from players like Life Technologies (LIFE) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO), among others.

Currently, Illumina retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold). Over the long term, we have a ‘Neutral’ recommendation on the stock.

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