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Illumina, Investment Firms Form Consumer Genomics Company

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina and private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Sutter Hill Ventures announced today that they have formed a consumer genomics firm called Helix, which has received financing commitments of more than $100 million.

According to the partners, they founded Helix to provide affordable sequencing and database services for consumer samples obtained through third-party partners. Customers will be able to manage their data and have access to a marketplace of on-demand applications provided by Helix partners in order to gain insights into the genomic data.

"Genomics is reaching an inflection point in cost, volumes, and knowledge, creating a significant opportunity to unlock information that is currently not widely accessible to individuals," Illumina CEO Jay Flatley, who will serve as Helix's chairman, said in a statement. "Helix and its founding investors are committed to creating a neutral platform at the highest quality standard that will work with partners to accelerate consumer adoption of genomics."

The new company's first partners include the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, which will collaborate with Helix to create applications initially focused on consumer education and health-related questions. As part of the arrangement, the Mayo Clinic has made an undisclosed investment in Helix.

Also signing on as a Helix partner is Laboratory Corporation of America, which will develop and offer data analysis and interpretation services through Helix's platform, with an initial focus on medically actionable genetic conditions.

Future partners are expected to develop applications in areas such as genealogy, fitness/wellness, and inherited traits.

To support its efforts, Helix plans to establish a large next-generation sequencing lab with secure and protected database capabilities in accordance with CLIA, CAP, and HIPAA guidelines, Helix's co-founders stated. Customers will have control over how their data are accessed through a consent process, they added, while the company will take steps to ensure that information is communicated to customers "in a responsible and ethical way."

Illumina said that it intends to consolidate Helix within its financial statements. The pro-rata impact of the new company was contemplated in Illumina's 2016 financial guidance, it noted, and is expected to be about $.10 dilutive to Illumina's non-GAAP earning per share guidance of between $3.39 and $3.45.