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Illumina CEO: Array Market Returned to 'Normalcy' in 2010 as BeadChip Sales Rose 10 Percent


This story was first posted on Jan. 13.

By Justin Petrone

Strong demand for arrays for use in genome-wide association studies and agricultural biotechnology research restored growth in Illumina's array business last year, according to the firm's highest official.

The trend was in contrast to Illumina's 2009 performance, when demand for the firm's chips slowed as customers waited for rarer variation content from efforts such as the 1000 Genomes Project to be made available on the firm's BeadArray platform.

CEO Jay Flatley told investors at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week that "2009 was a challenging year for us in the array business," but that 2010 was a "year when the market returned to some degree of normalcy."

Flatley made his comments as the San Diego vendor announced preliminary fourth-quarter revenues of approximately $260 million and preliminary full-year 2010 revenue of approximately $901 million. The numbers represent a 44 percent increase over the company's Q4 2009 sales of $180.6 million, and a 35 percent increase over 2009 annual revenues of $666.3 million.

Array sales contributed to this growth. While Flatley said that sales of the company's HiSeq sequencing system were up 24 percent over the third quarter and shipments of its recently launched Eco PCR system tripled in the fourth quarter as compared to the third quarter, microarrays sales were also up, growing 10 percent year over year.

The company expects this trend to continue in 2011 as it prepares to debut new products for association studies, and launches its expanded iSelect custom genotyping offering. In the association studies market, Flatley said Illumina has a "very strong product lineup" that consists of the firm's HumanOmniExpress, which enables customers to run 12 samples across a dozen 730,000-marker arrays on each chip; and its "flagship" HumanOmni2.5-Quad, which allows users to run four samples across four, 2.5-million-marker arrays on each chip.

Illumina plans to launch a 5-million-marker BeadChip for association studies, called the Omni5, later this year (BAN 12/7/2010). Flatley said that the firm expects to see publications by the summer from the first proof-of-principle studies using the new menu of Omni chips, which should create an "inflection point" in the association studies market.

Beyond its whole-genome products, Flatley said that Illumina's custom array business continues to grow "very well," especially in the ag-bio market, as well as from "follow-ups from GWAS and sequencing programs." He said the firm believes its expanded iSelect offering, introduced this week (BAN 1/11/2011), will "open up new opportunities in the ag space," given the higher-throughput and higher-density options now available to Illumina's clients.

Using the expanded iSelect offering, customers can now design custom arrays containing between 3,000 and a million markers in multiplex formats that will allow them to run up to 24 samples per chip. With the previous generation of the iSelect offering, customers could design arrays with up to 250,000 markers and run up to 12 samples per chip.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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