Illumina, bioMérieux launch first genomic sequencing service for bacterial infections

Combating antibiotic resistance means physicians need smarter tools to identify which infections are bacterial, what are the bacteria involved and how susceptible are they to various antibiotic treatments. Illumina ($ILMN) and bioMérieux have launched a whole genome sequencing service that's aimed at improving epidemiological monitoring and control of hospital-acquired infection.

Dubbed bioMérieux EpiSeq, the service offers a characterization of bacteria that can help hospitals to better understand the genetic markers associated with virulence and resistance and how bacteria are transmitted as well as how to contain and monitor an epidemic. Sequencing makes it possible to establish a correlation between different infectious agent characteristics in order to determine the chronology of transmission and to monitor its spread.

Illumina CEO Jay Flatley

"We are proud to partner with bioMérieux to bring this first-of-its-kind offering to market," said Illumina CEO Jay Flatley in a statement. "NGS can be used to better characterize and understand infection-causing bacteria on a whole genome basis. With the growth of antibiotic resistant strains, this unique offering couldn't be more timely or important to the future of public health."

To use the service, hospitals send the relevant bacterial isolates to a bioMérieux service laboratory that is equipped with an Illumina MiSeq sequencer. The genomic data is stored in a secure cloud platform and analyzed using a database and software from bioMérieux. The results show a genomic profile of infectious agents and their genetic variations in a report designed for healthcare use.

This service is the first to result from a November 2014 collaboration between bioMérieux and Illumina to jointly develop applications for microbiology sequencing. It will launch first in Europe, followed by North America and Asia. The initial menu will consist of Staphylococcus aureus and then subsequently be expanded to other bacterial species associated with healthcare infections.

"We are very pleased to be the first company to offer our customers an innovative sequencing solution in bacterial epidemiology," said bioMérieux chairman Jean-Luc Belingard. "The bioMérieux EpiSeq service addresses major public health challenges, combatting infectious diseases and resistance to antibiotics."

He continued, "The launch of bioMérieux EpiSeq marks a new and productive step in our partnership with Illumina for the application of NGS to bacterial genomes."

- here is the announcement