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Illumina, Garvan Institute Jointly Invest A$27M in Single-Cell Disease Research

NEW YORK – Illumina said Wednesday that it has made a joint investment of A$27 million (US$17.5 million) with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia to help advance single-cell and whole-genome sequencing research for complex diseases.

As part of the partnership, the Garvan Institute plans to map 50 million human cells from 10,000 people to help identify genomic biomarkers for autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, and cancer through its TenK10K project.

Illumina is supporting the project with supplies, equipment, and research technical support. With the investment from Illumina, the Garvan Institute aims to identify disease-linked immune cell genomic fingerprints and develop commercial tests for determining the right therapy for autoimmune diseases, launch early trials of new RNA therapies, and identify potential early targets to treat cancer and long COVID, as well as tests to track the aftermath of heart attacks.

Previously, Garvan Institute researchers analyzed the genomic profiles of more than 1 million cells from 1,000 people to identify markers of autoimmune disease in the OneK1K project, a precursor effort to TenK10K.

The researchers published their OneK1K results in a 2022 Science study, which led to a proof-of-principle clinical trial at 10 Sydney hospitals to identify and prioritize new drug targets for the treatment of Crohn's disease.

"Now, with the help of Illumina, TenK10K will build on this work to generate single-cell data on around 50 million cells from 10,000 individuals to further improve the accuracy of predicting disease risk and treatment response," Joseph Powell, leader of the TenK10K project at the Garvan Institute, said in statement. "This research will help identify the subtle genomic differences in everyone's cells, which will help us speed up diagnosis and treatment for many diseases."