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Illumina Introduces One-Day Genome Sequencer; New Business Groups

By Edward Winnick

SAN FRANCISCO (GenomeWeb News) – Illumina today at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference introduced a new HiSeq platform capable of sequencing a whole human genome in a day.

The firm's announcement comes on the same day that competitor Life Technologies introduced its Ion Proton Sequencer, a new instrument designed to sequence an entire human genome in a day for $1,000.

Illumina didn't provide the reagents costs for sequencing a whole genome with the new system, called the HiSeq 2500.

The list price for the instrument is $740,000 and CEO Jay Flatley said that it will be available as an upgrade from the HiSeq 2000 for $50,000.

Flatley said the new instrument will not require an early-access program as the firm is already using it to sequence a genome per day internally, and he questioned whether Life Technologies is able to do this.

The HiSeq 2500 will initially be rolled out as part of Illumina's services business in the first quarter of this year and will be available commercially in the second half. The delay in placing the instruments is due to the firm's efforts in optimizing the reagent kits.

In addition to sequencing a whole human genome in a day, Flatley said the new system will be able to sequence 20 exomes in a day and 30 RNA-seq samples in five hours.

As reported by GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication In Sequence, the HiSeq 2500 will have all the capabilities of the current HiSeq 2000 system, but will also offer the option for a quicker, lower-throughput run that will deliver a whole human genome in a day. Users will be able to choose whether to perform a 600-gigabase sequencing run or a 120-gigabase sequencing run.

Flatley also said at the JP Morgan conference that Illumina will seek US Food and Drug Administration clearance for the MiSeq platform this year in collaboration with Siemens, with whom it has an HIV test alliance.

The new instrument was one of several items Flatley touched on during his presentation here. He also noted that Illumina has established two new business groups within the firm: Molecular Biology and PCR, which will be led by Mark Lewis, and Translational and Consumer Genomics, which will be led by Matt Posard. He said that the latter of these two was set up due to the different demands of clinical customers and noted the firm's potential in the rapidly growing consumer genomics space.

Flatley also reported unaudited 2011 revenues of $250 million for the fourth quarter of 2011, a 6 percent increase sequentially from Q3.

The preliminary revenues beat Wall Street consensus estimates of $247 million but represent a 4 percent decline year-over-year.