Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Illumina Officials Say Array Business Will Benefit from Epicentre Buy


By Justin Petrone

Illumina's acquisition of reagent maker Epicentre Biotechnologies could offer some advantages for its microarray business, according to company officials.

CEO Jay Flatley said during an earnings call last week that the firm has in the past licensed "several" Epicentre enzymes for use in its array business. Now the firm has the "ability to use those enzymes at cost rather than [retail] price," he said.

San Diego-based Illumina acquired privately held Madison, Wis.-based Epicentre last month for an undisclosed sum. So far, the purchase has had the most visible impact on Illumina's next-generation sequencing business, giving it exclusive access to a suite of library preparation kits that Illumina called a "key component" of its rationale for the buy.

Branded as Nextera, the approach relies on a mutant version of the Tn5 transposase, which fragments DNA and adds sequencing adaptors in a single step. Researchers have reacted positively to the kits, citing advantages in terms of speed, low DNA input, and lack of equipment required. Flatley claimed at an investor conference last month that the Epicentre technology cuts sequencing sample-prep time from 12 hours and nine steps to two hours and four steps.

While the Epicentre purchase has an obvious upshot for Illumina's sequencing business, both Flatley and Tristan Orpin, Illumina's chief commercial officer, said that the acquisition benefits the array business, too. For instance, Illumina has in the past publicly recommended its expression arrays be used with Epicentre reagents.

Specifically, Epicentre has sold its TargetAmp Nano-g Biotin-aRNA Labeling Kit for use with Illumina Expression BeadChips. This kit provides for the amplification and biotin-labeling of mRNA in total RNA of greater than 25 nanograms.

In addition to the Nextera technology and targetAmp kits, Epicentre offers a number of enzymes and molecular biology reagents for applications, such as DNA, RNA, and protein sample prep; PCR; cloning; DNA and RNA sequencing; in vitro transcription; and transposition.

Epicentre offers "a very broad suite of technologies; different enzymes, different chemistry," Orpin told BioArray News recently. Beyond Nextera, there will be "things that tie into quantitative PCR and the array portfolio," he said. Orpin did not elaborate and a company spokesperson this week declined to provide further details of the impact of the acquisition on Illumina's array business.

The acquisition follows similar purchases by rivals in the array market. Affymetrix, for instance, bought reagent maker USB in 2007, the same year Agilent Technologies acquired Stratagene (BAN 1/8/2008).

In both cases, Affy and Agilent gained a large portfolio of reagent products, some of which were later folded into the firms' respective array businesses. Agilent, for instance, launched Stratagene-made labeling kits for microRNA and gene expression, as well as comparative genomic hybridization applications, a year after the acquisition (BAN 7/8/2008).

Flatley last week called Epicentre the "leading innovator in next-generation sequencing sample prep technology," and noted the firm has also developed a "broad portfolio of specialty enzymes." He said that Illumina will begin to transition from using enzymes from other third-party providers to using Epicentre enzymes, where applicable.

Illumina is currently evaluating the Epicentre portfolio, and will continue to sell Epicentre kits when they "make sense" to continue marketing. The firm may rebrand products that work directly with Illumina systems as Illumina products, while maintaining the Epicentre brand for more generic products, Flatley said. He added that the evaluation will be completed within a few months.

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

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.