Illumina to buy bioinformatics business NextBio

Illumina CEO Jay Flatley

NextBio was set up to solve a problem partly created by Illumina's ($ILMN) success in next-generation sequencing (NGS)--how to make Big Data accessible and useful to researchers. Now, Illumina is to offer its own solution by acquiring NextBio and combining it with its BaseSpace cloud computing environment.

Since rolling out its first product in 2006, NextBio has built an enviable list of Big Pharma clients including GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Merck ($MRK) and Pfizer ($PFE). Illumina has also worked with the company to assess the impact of genome-wide mutations, NextBio revealed in a 2011 blog post, and has now seen enough potential to agree a deal to buy the business. The size of the deal was kept secret, but Illumina did outline what it plans to do with NextBio after the acquisition closes in the next couple of days.

Illumina will integrate NextBio into its newly-formed Enterprise Informatics unit and combine the acquired assets with its BaseSpace cloud computing system. BaseSpace hosts more than 13,000 apps, and Illumina will now help drive development of NextBio's contribution to the ecosystem. In doing so, Illumina expects to help researchers extract insights from their data. "NextBio enables the classification and aggregation of phenotypic and clinical data within a single environment and allows analysis of that data at unprecedented speed and scale," Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said.

Using NextBio's tools researchers can compare their results against thousands of published and private datasets. The company has also branched out into the support of clinical research. Integrating these capabilities with its existing NGS assets will allow Illumina to work with clients from sample through to analysis. Reports Qiagen ($QGEN) is buying bioinformatics outfit CLC Bio show there is interest in such integrated offerings. In a research note published before the Illumina deal, Wells Fargo analyst Tim Evans wrote: "The scientific community seems to be excited about this acquisition because once Qiagen launches its own sequencing platform, Qiagen will legitimately own the only true sample-to-answer solution in the industry."

- here's the press release
- check out GEN's article