Illumina taps IDbyDNA for infectious disease sequencing co-marketing initiative

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Illumina and IDbyDNA said their project has been stepped up to help support international COVID-19 surveillance efforts. (Illumina)

Illumina has partnered with metagenomics company IDbyDNA to offer new next-generation sequencing workflows focused in microbiology and infectious disease, including for the novel coronavirus.

Both Illumina and IDbyDNA will co-market the latter’s Explify platform—a DNA search engine that can detect and profile over 50,000 microorganisms and 3,000 pathogens in the clinic, as well as antimicrobial resistance—for use on the sequencing giant’s hardware and library preparation systems. 

Additionally, the two will collaborate on the development of new, research-use-only programs to help improve testing for infectious diseases. The companies said the project has been stepped up to help support international COVID-19 surveillance efforts.

“We recognize that a key barrier to adoption of next-generation sequencing for infectious disease testing has been the lack of simple, powerful bioinformatics software to turn the data generated by the sequencer into actionable insights,” Illumina’s vice president of clinical marketing, Kathy Davy, said in a statement.

To start, the collaboration has begun working with Synergy Laboratories, a clinical lab based in Alabama, to offer a sequencing-based test for urinary tract infections aimed at about 100 potential pathogens and 371 genetic markers of drug resistance.

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“Metagenomic NGS-based testing enables the most comprehensive detection of hundreds to thousands of pathogens, both for routine testing and for emerging public health threats like SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak,” said IDbyDNA Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Field.  

“Importantly, we are able to determine not only the presence of this emerging virus but also decipher the genetic makeup of individual strains allowing us to compare strains, differentiate them from other coronaviruses and perform surveillance activities right at the time of diagnosis,” Field said. “With the increase in global travel and economic integration, the ability to monitor and track the spread of pathogens such as the novel coronavirus is a critical public health challenge.”

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