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Illumina Acquires French Genomic Data-Compression Startup Enancio

NEW YORK – Illumina said on Tuesday that it has acquired Enancio, a French startup that makes genomic-specific compression software. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.     

Enancio, a precommercial firm based in Cesson-Sévigné, France, has developed lossless compression technology that shrinks the output from Illumina sequencers from 50 gigabytes to 10 GB, reducing the cost of data storage by a similar ratio. Illumina said the system compresses DNA sequences by mapping reads to a reference genome, using a compact binary format to encode reads as a position and a list of differences.

Illumina said that the volume of data generated by its sequencing systems worldwide grew by more than 50 percent in 2019, to 150 petabases. That, according to the company, is as much data as 500 years of high-definition video.

Illumina plans on integrating the Enancio technology into Dragen, a platform that uses field-programmable gate array technology in combination with proprietary software algorithms to reduce data footprint and enable faster speeds. Illumina brought Dragen into its portfolio when it acquired Edico Genome in 2018.

The sequencing giant also will integrate Enancio technology into its cloud-storage systems.

"This information tsunami is both far-reaching and complex, yet within the data lies infinite possibilities for great scientific advancements, and together with Dragen, we're going to make storing and transferring data more user-friendly," Enancio CEO Jennifer Del Giudice said in a statement. Del Guidice and other Enancio employees are all joining Illumina.

"Illumina now has one of the industry’s foremost and differentiated secondary analysis tools in Dragen, a scalable cloud data exchange with both the Illumina Analytics Platform (IAP) and BlueBee technology, and together this fosters a cost-effective, fast, and simple workflow for our customers," added Susan Tousi, Illumina's senior vice president of product development.

The purchase of Enancio comes a month after Illumina acquired Netherlands-based bioinformatics firm BlueBee to bolster its cloud-based genomic analysis capabilities. BlueBee makes a platform to simplify access to data and help lower the cost of storing, sharing, and managing large amounts of genomic data coming off sequencers.