Illumina and bioMérieux to develop innovative sequencing system for infectious diseases

Illumina CEO Jay Flatley

As the diagnostics industry explores innovative ways to monitor and contain bacterial infections, Illumina ($ILMN) is joining forces with French diagnostic outfit bioMérieux to develop a next-generation sequencing (NGS) system that can identify infectious bacteria in service labs and hospitals.

Under the four-year renewable agreement, the companies will create a pathogen genome database based on bioMérieux's collection of 80,000 bacterial cultures, and will use Illumina's MiSeq sequencing system to provide an in-depth genomic profile of infectious disease agents. Illumina and bioMérieux will first roll out the system in service labs, but eventually plan to unveil the technology in public health and hospital microbiology labs to contain epidemics and prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the companies said in a statement.

"This partnership combines Illumina's internationally recognized expertise in the development of sequencing solutions with bioMérieux's unique and extensive understanding of infectious agents," Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said in a statement. "We are excited by the opportunity to expand the number of NGS-based applications in the infectious disease market with a solution designed for epidemiology and hospital infection control."

The deal comes at a critical moment for Illumina, as the San Diego, CA-based company continues to generate upward momentum for its NGS technology. In October, Illumina's Q3 revenue shot up to $481 million, an eye-popping 35% increase over the same quarter last year and the company's highest recorded growth rate since the second quarter of 2011. Flatley attributed the positive numbers to Illumina's thriving sequencing consumables business and increased demand for its HiSeq X Ten and the NextSeq 500 sequencing systems.

Meanwhile, the company is inking deals and beefing up R&D to bolster its diagnostics presence. In August, Illumina teamed up with pharma bigwigs AstraZeneca ($AZN), Janssen Biotech and Sanofi ($SNY) to develop a universal gene-sequencing companion diagnostic test system focused on cancer.

In October, the company struck a deal with diagnostics provider Reprogenetics to use its NGS technology to offer chromosome screening for in vitro fertilization. Illumina further ramped up its in vitro diagnostics efforts this month, as it announced that it would partner with Sequenta to market a kit that identifies a condition associated with cancer remission.

- read Illumina and bioMérieux's statement

Special Report: The most influential people in biopharma today - Jay Flatley - Illumina

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