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Jay Flatley On Sequencing, Cancer, and FDA

The San Diego Union-Tribune's Keith Darcé recently spoke with Illumina CEO Jay Flatley about the company's share in the sequencing market, its lowered whole-genome sequencing price, its plans to develop diagnostic tests for certain cancers, and its recent involvement with the US Food and Drug Administration's push to regulate DTC genetic testing. When asked by Darcé whether it's useful "at this point" for individuals to have their genomes sequences, Flatley says: "In some of these early situations we may have some chance of payoff, but the most likely case is that we won't" as more work needs to be done. In explaining why Illumina has chosen to focus on investigating ovarian and gastric cancers, Flatley says that the team "wanted to work on cancers where we could get reasonable access to samples ... as opposed to something like pancreatic cancer where it's very hard to get samples. They are so highly mutated by the time anyone detects them, sequencing doesn't tell you much." He adds that they chose to study "cancers that had not already been worked on by hundreds of other people." Finally, when it comes to recent conversations with FDA about DTC genetic testing, Flatley says "it's not that they want to shut this business down, as far as we can tell." Instead, he says, Illumina is working with the agency "to design a new paradigm" for testing for a broad set of predictive (disease markers) that nobody quite yet knows how to deal with. ... Nobody knows yet how it will work."

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.