Illumina nabs Helixis' gene tech in $105M buyout deal

With an eye on the growing market for genetic lab products, Illumina today unveiled a deal to buy Helixis for up to $105 million. The genetic analysis equipment maker will now gain control of Helixis' real-time polymerase chain reaction system, which can be used to track the efficacy of cancer drugs or provide biologists with a unique insight on DNA activity.

Illumina, which is paying $70 million up front and $35 million more based on certain contingencies, has some tough competition in the field. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the acquisition will make Illumina more competitive with Life Technologies and others in the market.

Xconomy explains that Helixis got started with technology hatched at CalTech, developing a new PCR technology that's conveniently sized to sit on a biologist's lab bench while costing only a fraction of the competing products now on the market. Helixis started selling its new technology last year and had already lured Illumina CEO Jay Flatley to the board.

"We are excited to launch the Eco Real-Time PCR System, which we believe will set new standards for performance, simplicity and affordability," said Christian Henry, senior vice president and general manager of Illumina's life sciences division.

- check out the Illumina release
- here's the Xconomy report
- see the story from the San Diego Union-Tribune