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Illumina Says it Has Collected Sufficient Samples for Cancer Sequencing Study; Starts Analyzing Data

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By Julia Karow

This article was originally published Dec. 3.

Illumina has collected sufficient samples for an internal cancer genome sequencing project and is analyzing the first batch of data from the study, according to a company official.

At the Piper Jaffray Health Care conference in New York last week, Illumina Senior Vice President of corporate development and CFO Christian Henry told investors that the company has collected sufficient samples for an ovarian and gastric cancer sequencing project and is in the process of analyzing the first data from the ovarian cancer study.

The aim of the project, which is part of a three-pronged diagnostics strategy that Illumina unveiled earlier this year (see In Sequence 1/20/2009), is to identify "unique markers" that, upon validation, can be commercialized as diagnostic tests, he explained.

"We definitely collected enough [samples] to meet our goal," he said. "The real question will be, 'Is that enough to give the answers to develop [diagnostic] products?', and none of us know that until we go through the process."

In September, Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said that the company intends to sequence between 75 and 80 tumor-normal sample pairs. At the time, he cautioned that the firm had found it difficult to track down enough suitable samples (see In Sequence 9/29/2009).

Another part of Illumina's diagnostics strategy is its CLIA laboratory, which was certified earlier this year. Currently, the lab is mostly used for personal genome sequencing services that the company launched this spring, Henry said, adding that "we have had a nice queue of genomes to sequence." Illumina also plans to offer diagnostic tests through the CLIA lab in the future.

The third part of the firm's Dx program is the development of diagnostic applications for its BeadXpress genotyping platform, which is currently pending 510(k) approval as a medical device from the Food and Drug Administration.

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