Illumina, Inc. is an American company. Incorporated in April 1998, Illumina develops, manufactures, and markets integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function. The company provides a line of products and services that serves the sequencing, genotyping and gene expression, and proteomics markets. Its headquarters are located in San Diego, California.
Illumina's technology had purportedly by 2014 reduced the cost of DNA sequencing a human genome to US$1,000, down from a price of $1 million in 2007. Customers include genomic research centres, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organisations, and biotechnology companies.
In 2016, Illumina launched an "aggressive" five-year plan to “bring genomics out of research labs and into doctors’ offices.” Given state of things since 2020, particularly the global push toward gene-focused vaccines and therapies, that plan, which concludes this year, could not have been any better timed.
Whole genome sequencing
On 13 January 2020, Genomics England and Illumina announced an agreement to deliver up to 300,000 whole genome equivalents over the next five years, with an option to increase to 500,000. Samples will be provided through the NHS Genomic Medicine Service and the network of seven genomic laboratory hubs across England, which were established in 2018. This supports NHS England’s ambition to lead the world in introducing whole genome sequencing (WGS) into routine healthcare. Samples will also be provided by Genomics England and from the Government’s Life Sciences Strategy for research purposes.
The agreement builds on the successful delivery of the 100,000 Genomes Project (100KGP), which established consent from patients with rare genetic diseases and cancer, tissue sample requirements, standardised DNA sequencing, data analysis and reporting. It also supports the ambition described by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to analyse up to 5 million genomes (including whole genome sequencing) by 2024, enabling the UK to maintain its position as a global leader in genomics.
Fight against COVID-19
In May 2020, a new partnership to sequence human genomes in the fight against COVID-19 was announced: Genomics England, is partnering with the GenOMICC consortium, Illumina and the NHS to launch the research drive, which will reach patients in 170 intensive care units (ICUs) throughout the UK. The project is backed by £28 million from Genomics England, UK Research and Innovation, the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health Research. Illumina will sequence all 35,000 genomes and share some of the cost via an in-kind contribution. Whole genome sequencing will be carried out by Illumina at its laboratories in Cambridge, UK, where they successfully delivered the 100,000 Genomes Project together with Genomics England and the NHS.
Paula Dowdy, General Manager and SVP Illumina, EMEA, said:
- “We have a long-standing partnership with Genomics England and are proud to support this new genomics initiative from our Cambridge-based lab. The results will establish a unique platform for researchers to understand the human response to coronavirus infection, leading towards new treatments and ways to control infection spread.”
Jay Flatley was is the long-time head of Illumina. Though he stepped down from the board of Illumina in 2016, he has continued to serve as the executive chairman of its board of director. Per 2021, he is chairman of the board of directors of Wellcome Leap.
In addition to his long-standing leadership role at Illumina, Jay Flatley is also a “digital member” of the World Economic Forum as well as the lead independent director of Zymergen, a WEF “tech pioneer” company that is “rethinking biology and reimagining the world.”
Aside from Flatley as an individual, Illumina as a company is a WEF partner and plays a key role in its platform regarding the future of health care. A top Illumina executive also serves on the WEF’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology.
- "Illumina's CEO on the Promise of the $1,000 Genome — And the Work That Remains"
- "Genomics England and Illumina partner to deliver whole genome sequencing for England’s NHS Genomic Medicine Service"
- "New partnership to sequence human genomes in the fight against coronavirus"