Illumina invests in CRISPR gene editing software player

Illumina SVP Nicholas Naclerio

Illumina ($ILMN) has invested in Desktop Genetics (DTG), a developer of software to support CRISPR gene editing. The funding will go toward integrating DTG's tool into NGS pipelines, bringing the CRISPR software closer to the core of Illumina's business.

Snagging the financial support of Illumina and the validation it brings is a big moment for DTG and its CRISPR software, DeskGen. London-based DTG has designed the software to guide researchers through the CRISPR gene editing process, from the design of the experiment through to the analysis of the results. The offering has attracted the interest of some notable organizations. DTG lists scientists at Harvard, the Broad Institute, the University of Oxford and MIT among its users. And last month, robot-enabled research pioneer Transcriptic inked a deal with DTG. 

The agreement with Illumina, the dominant force in sequencing, marks another step up for DTG. "We have been impressed by DTG's proprietary DeskGen platform for CRISPR-based gene editing," Illumina SVP Nicholas Naclerio said in a statement. "CRISPR is becoming increasingly important for NGS applications, and we are pleased to support DTG in executing their vision to build this market." Some of Illumina's investment, the size of which is undisclosed, will go toward closing the gap between its business and that of DTG by integrating DeskGen into NGS pipelines.

DTG will use the rest of the cash for general development and commercialization of DeskGen, tasks on which the company is already working. Specific goals include improvements to the software itself, enhancements to the CRISPR algorithms it uses and a strengthening of DTG's sales and marketing infrastructure. Illumina joins a syndicate of VCs and angel investors on the list of DTG's financiers, a group that as of last month had funneled $2.5 million into the software developer's bank account.

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