Illumina and GlaxoSmithKline have signed an agreement in which Illumina will use its BeadArray technology to determine the frequency of specific SNPs in a set of samples that Glaxo provides.
This is the first SNP genotyping partnership that Illumina has entered into with its BeadArray technology.
The technology is based on a technique in which fluorescently labeled beads are coated with hundreds of thousands of DNA probe molecules representing a single gene. The genes are then placed in an indentation on the tip of a fiber optic bundle. The company arrays these bundles onto a cassette that matches up with a standard 96-well microtiter plate. When a sample hybridizes to the bead, the bead emits a light signal.
The company began developing its BeadArrays in partnership with Applied Biosystems in November 1999. Applied Biosystems supplied its DNA chemistry and made a $5 million equity investment in Illumina at the time.
The arrays are to be designed for numerous gene expression applications, but the company said in its first quarter conference call that it would begin providing its SNP genotyping technology as part of an early-access program by the third quarter of this year. The company, which had cash assets worth $115 million as of March 31, also said it would be ready to ship commercial versions of SNP-genotyping BeadArrays in mid-2002.