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Illumina to Grow Sales Staff by At Least Half in '06; Affy Suit Could Go to Court in Early March

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Illumina’s global sales staff will increase by at least half this year as the company sets to roll out its BeadXpress molecular diagnostic platform, a company official said today.
 
CEO Jay Flatley, speaking to investors at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference here today, said Illumina’s sales staff will grow by between 50 percent and 60 percent this year over last.
 
Answering a question during a break-out session following his presentation, Flatley also said that Affymetrix’s patent-infringement suit against Illumina will likely begin during the second week of March 2007, though he said that has not been confirmed yet.
 
Affymetrix sued Illumina in July 2004 for allegedly infringing six patents in the DNA microarray field and related technology. Affy dropped one of the patents from the suit in March. A Markman hearing in the case was held in April, according to GenomeWeb News sister publication BioArray News.
 
At the conference, Flatley reiterated that the company plans to launch the BeadXpress technology by the end of the year. He said the platform, which will be able to run 100 samples per hour, will have applications in genotyping, gene expression research, and protein-binding studies. Flatley said these applications are still in development.
 
Flatley said the system will begin field testing “soon” and that the company will begin selling it in 2007 to the research market. In May Flatley said the goal is to get the system cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration roughly by the end of 2006, which will enable Illumina to begin selling it to CLIA labs.
 
He had also said the company may build and combine its own sales staff to sell diagnostic products while partnering with others. "It's likely to be a hybrid model," he said. "We're in the process of making some final evaluations."

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