Illumina, Icon land data deals with U.K. mass genome sequencing program

Genomics England has signed up Illumina ($ILMN) and Icon ($ICLR) to support the 100,000 Genomes Project. Illumina, which has been closely involved with Genomics England since the start, is working to develop informatics tools, while CRO Icon is taking responsibility for managing data generated in the sequencing program.

The unveiling of the bioinformatics collaboration between Illumina and Genomics England marks the formalization of an initiative that was first discussed publicly in June. At that time, Illumina was the surprise omission from the list of interpretation partners selected by Genomics England, which asked the sequencing giant not to tender for the contracts. Instead of bringing Illumina, the company that is handling the sequencing of the 100,000 genomes, on board to help with interpretation at that time, Genomics England set about working with it on "bioinformatic challenges."

Now, with the formalization of the project, Genomics England has revealed more details of what it is trying to achieve in collaboration with Illumina. The plan is to create a platform that automates the interpretation of genomes, making it simpler for clinicians and researchers to draw conclusions from the data. Genomics England wants the tools to have open application programming interfaces so its other bioinformatics partners can continue to provide services. As well as developing new tools, Illumina is giving Genomics England access to NextBio and BaseSpace, two of its existing products.

The tools in development at Illumina will operate inside Genomics England's database, a resource to which Icon is also contributing. Icon, a CRO headquartered in Ireland, has landed itself the role of data management partner. In this capacity, Icon will apply its capabilities to the validation of clinical data from participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project. "Their renowned expertise in data management will be fundamental in driving scientific research and accelerating the return of results for [National Health Service] patients," Genomics England's James Peach said in a statement.

- read the Icon release
- here's the Illumina news
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