Illumina, Life Technologies trumpet startup efforts in clinical genomics

The network effect could bring genomics into the mainstream of healthcare and aid drug development. Two rival leaders in the DNA sequencing arena--Illumina and Life Technologies--have forged separate alliances with major medical institutions to bring the power of decoding genomes into the clinic.

Illumina ($ILMN) and Life Technologies ($LIFE) are in a race to advance genomics from its roots in research labs to an everyday part of healthcare. Both companies have made deals over the past year to bring them closer to the clinic, and the rivals have also invested in software tools that can streamline the use of huge amounts of genomic and genetic information in research and clinical practice.

Illumina, the world's top provider of genome sequencers, has tied up with Partners HealthCare on marrying Illumina's MiSeq tech for reading genomes and Partners' GeneInsight software for aiding interpretation and reporting workflow of genetic tests. Last week, the partners revealed founding collaborators from ARUP Laboratories, Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory, and New York Genome Center to share data on genome variants to advance its use in healthcare.   

A day later, Life Technologies and Children's Hospital Boston announced the founding of their new venture called Claritas Genomics, a company focused on diagnostic testing based on genomics advances. Claritas taps the Ion Torrent tech from Life as well as software and bioinformatics. Children's provides the medical expertise and resources from CLIA-certified Genetic Diagnostic Lab.

"Our investment in Claritas Genomics is a prime example of strategic partnerships Life Technologies is entering into to accelerate the use of accurate genomic information in medical practice," Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Life Technologies, said in a statement.

The promotion of genomics to clinical status could have huge benefits for pharma. Right now, healthcare providers have been creating digital files of phenotypic data on patients, and hospitals have begun to layer on genomic info. With permission, drugmakers could leverage the information for clinical trials recruitment. Think Google for clinical trials.

- see the Illumina release
- and the Life Technologies release
- check out Bio-IT World's article