While Illumina's array business is on the rebound thanks to demand for its HumanOmni2.5-Quad DNA Analysis BeadChip, the firm believes that in order to restore significant growth in the market for whole-genome genotyping arrays, the first studies that use the new chips must be successful.
Illumina Chief Financial Officer Christian Henry said last week that the third quarter was the strongest for the San Diego firm's array business in more than a year, led by adoption of the Omni2.5. Launched in June, the 2.5M contains common and rare variants from the 1000 Genomes Project, and is available in a four-sample format composed of approximately 10 million markers per array (BAN 6/8/2010).
"It was our best-selling array in the quarter," Henry said, and called the uptake of the chip a "nice indication that people were waiting and there was demand." Henry comments were webcast from the Piper Jaffray Health Care Conference, held last week in New York.
Still, while demand for Illumina's whole-genome genotyping arrays is up, Henry said it is "important for early projects" that rely on the arrays to "show success which will then drive the next wave of GWAS."
He predicted that some data from early studies should become available early next year and into the second quarter."GWAS will continue to grow next year; how fast will be dependent on how these early programs wrap up," he said.
The company also anticipates that should the outcome of these studies be successful, more customers will adopt its Omni5 BeadChip when it becomes available next year. The firm's most recent prediction is that the 5-million-marker array will be commercialized in the middle of 2011 (11/2/2010).
According to Henry, the Omni5 will include a SNP for every 60 bases and will be a "very high-performance chip." He said the firm is also gauging demand for new arrays that will harness rare variant content.
"Customers are asking for more, better, faster," said Henry. "They want to look at rare variant content and they want to look at content that is ethnically focused."
Researchers are currently debating whether it will be wiser to pursue their studies using ethnically themed arrays or to use a more general array (BAN 11/9/2010).
"Ultimately, we will be able to design products that will be specifically focused on ethnicities," Henry said. "We have the flexibility. It depends on what the customer really wants."
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