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Illumina ‘tames’ a DRAGEN
June 2018
by Mel J. Yeates  |  Email the author
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SAN DIEGO—Illumina Inc. announced in May its acquisition of Edico Genome, a provider of data analysis acceleration solutions for next-generation sequencing (NGS). Edico Genome’s DRAGEN Bio-IT Platform (DRAGEN) uses field programmable gate array technology in conjunction with proprietary software algorithms to reduce both data footprint and time to results.
 
“Our acquisition of Edico Genome is a big step toward realizing the vision of reducing sequencing data acquisition and analysis to a push-button, standardized process,” said Susan Tousi, senior vice president of product development at Illumina. “We expect to build on the solid foundation of DRAGEN to deliver a more streamlined and integrated sample to answer experience for our customers.”
 
“We have had tremendous success at Rady’s for years using Edico’s DRAGEN coupled with Illumina sequencers to accelerate the delivery of genomic insights for critically ill newborns,” explained Dr. Stephen F. Kingsmore, president and CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. “Our goal is to ensure that whole-genome sequencing is available to every child who needs it. To do this, we need a rapid workflow that can scale and ultimately be accessible to hospitals around the world.”
 
DRAGEN can be run on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid mode, and is said to be “flexible and compatible” for use with multiple cloud storage solutions and analysis pipelines. The platform complements Illumina’s sequencing portfolio and enables customers to benefit from reduced investment in computing infrastructure and accelerated result times, which will hopefully improve their overall efficiency and allow greater emphasis on interpretation and reporting. In addition, Edico Genome has built a strong base of NGS customers who have already incorporated DRAGEN as a standard part of their sequencing workflow.
 
“Thanks to Illumina, the ability to generate accurate and affordable sequencing data is rapidly expanding the market and use cases for NGS. As the scale of sequencing expands, decreasing the cost and time of analysis will be important to fuel the clinical adoption of sequencing,” said Dr. Pieter van Rooyen, president and CEO of Edico Genome. “Our team is invigorated at the prospect of joining Illumina to combine our respective strengths to streamline and accelerate secondary analysis for the genomics community.”
 
In other Illumina news, in April the company announced a collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) that will utilize Illumina’s NGS technology to develop and globally commercialize in-vitro diagnostic assays in support of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s oncology portfolio. The companies plan to develop a diagnostic version of the Illumina TruSight Oncology 500 assay to measure potentially predictive genomic biomarkers, including tumor mutation burden (TMB).
 
“Through our deep understanding of cancer biology and emerging research, we recognize the importance for physicians to know each patient’s biomarker status to help fight their cancer in a more personalized way,” said Dr. Saurabh Saha, senior vice president and global head of translational medicine at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We are excited to partner with Illumina to pursue development of diagnostics that can help predict which patients will have the potential to benefit most from our immunotherapies.”
 
Illumina’s TruSight Oncology 500 assay is being developed to detect most of the known biomarkers for oncology therapeutics, including TMB and microsatellite instability for immunotherapies. Cancer immunotherapy works by helping the immune system mount an anti-cancer response, a process that depends in part on the recognition of cancer-specific proteins called neoantigens. BMS’ clinical development program includes 24 clinical-stage molecules designed to target different immune system pathways across more than 50 types of cancers, and through its translational capabilities, the company has identified a number of potentially predictive biomarkers, including PD-L1, TMB, MSI-H/dMMR and LAG-3.
 
“The identification of biomarkers for targeted therapies is emerging as a key part of a cancer patient’s journey, from treatment selection through response monitoring, and allows physicians to follow the evolution of a patient’s tumor over time,” pointed out Dr. Garret Hampton, executive vice president of clinical genomics at Illumina. “Next-generation sequencing assays, such as a companion diagnostic version of TruSight Oncology 500, are ideally suited to the comprehensive interrogation of a patient’s cancer. With BMS’ leading position in immunotherapy development, we see tremendous promise in this partnership to co-develop next-generation sequencing-based diagnostics that can identify effective therapeutic combinations and provide global access to these targeted drugs.”
 
Code: E061810

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