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Illumina Signs Up US Distributor for qPCR System, Reagents

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Illumina said this week that it has inked a deal with an undisclosed company to distribute its Eco real-time PCR system and recently launched real-time PCR reagents in the US.

Illumina launched the portfolio of reagents – probe-based chemistry and DNA binding dye assays for gene expression analysis, and high-resolution melting assays for genotyping studies – outside the US in July (PCR Insider, 7/26/2012).

The new reagents, which include a core probe-based chemistry for gene expression analysis called NuPCR, are expected to complement Illumina's Eco real-time PCR system and help the company further tap into the real-time PCR market.

In a conference call in July recapping the company's second-quarter earnings, CEO Jay Flatley remarked that it would "take some time" for Illumina to ramp up distribution for its new reagents, but that it was immediately making the products available outside the US and would nail down a distribution strategy for the US by the end of this year.

This week, in a conference call discussing Illumina's Q3 earnings, Flatley remarked that in Q2, "we announced the non-domestic release of our real-time PCR reagent portfolio, including a novel probe-based chemistry for gene expression analysis called NuPCR. We're pleased to report that we've now signed a major distribution agreement for our Eco instrument and NuPCR in the US, which we plan to announce in mid-November after we've trained the distributor sales force and have the order processing systems fully in place."

Illumina has said that it expects the NuPCR assays to compete with offerings from rival companies on price, anticipating that it will sell the assays at about half the price of competing products.

In addition, the company claims that NuPCR can generate a higher signal-to-noise ratio than competing assays due to its use of nucleic acid-based enzyme called NuZyme for catalysis, which is not dependent on the 5' nuclease activity of the polymerase.

Illumina unveiled the Eco system when it acquired the platform's developer, Helixis, in 2010 (PCR Insider, 7/29/2010).

Illumina's sales figures for either the Eco or its real-time PCR reagents are unclear, as the company has not provided them in its quarterly earnings statements.

This week, the company reported a 21 percent year-over-year spike in Q3 revenues, including a 15 percent increase in instrument revenue primarily due to sales of its MiSeq next-generation sequencing platform. However, the company also reported a 4 percent decline in consumables revenues.

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