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Their Oligos Runneth Over

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In an effort to soup up its oligonucleotide-producing Oligator technology, Illumina overshot its internal demand for the product and now plans to sell the surplus oligos to other companies. The original Oligator pumped out 768 oligos daily, and when cycle time was cut in half, output grew to two million oligos each year, says Jay Flatley, president and CEO.

The quest continues. “We’ll at least double that this year,” Flatley says, offering no specific target amount. “The rate at which we add capacity will be driven by outside demand.”

Illumina is negotiating with a few potential clients, but will not reveal names. “Most people aren’t going to want to disclose the fact that they’re buying lots of oligos,” Flatley says.

The company itself uses oligos to make arrays; it has four Oligators and “there are plans for more,” says spokesman William Craumer.

The oligo surfeit will also promote Illumina’s future SNP ventures. The company is poised to introduce a joint fiberoptic SNP genotyping effort with Applied Biosystems that is expected to process one thousand SNPs per minute, Craumer adds.

Key competitors in the oligo market are Operon, Sigma-Genosys, and Genset.

— Meredith Salisbury

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