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Illumina Inc. (ILMN - Analyst Report), a major developer of life science tools for large-scale genetic analysis, recently launched its FastTrack Sequencing Services operation RapidTrack Whole Genome Sequencing Service (RapidTrack WGS). Based on Illumina’s new HiSeq 2500 platform, RapidTrack WGS is claimed to offer the fastest sample-to-data turnaround time by delivering a whole human genome in less than 2 weeks’ time.

While working jointly with an accelerated sample preparation protocol and Illumina’s new iSAAC genome alignment software, RapidTrack WGS needs just 5 days of sample-to-data cycle time for a complete human genome. The San Diego-based company has marketed the product with service capacity of 5 to 10 whole human genomes per week. However, the capacity may increase with the demand.

Earlier in 2012, Illumina broadcasted HiSeq 2500’s rapid turn-around sequencing capacities. The company also expects to authorize the HiSeq 2500 in its CLIA laboratory shortly, which will enable fast response clinical sequencing.

Illumina introduced HiSeq 2500, a new multi-mode next-generation sequencer earlier this year and is slated for commercial launch in the second half of 2012. The DNA sequencing market is getting more competitive as Life Technologies Corporation’s Benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer is expected to hit the market in mid-2012. These devices can sequence a human genome in a single day rather than weeks.

However, with the inclusion of HiSeq 2500 into the Whole Genome Sequencing Service, Illumina will be able to sequence a human genome within a day with unsurpassed data quality and the lowest sample input of any whole-genome sequencing service. Thus the company claims RapidTrack WGS to improve the quality of life of patients by saving their time and money.

Going forward, the company expects HiSeq shipments to reflect the incoming order rate and include standard genome analyzer upgrades, current customers adding additional instruments, new customers and competitive displacements. Illumina believes that these four segments would represent significant opportunities and expects HiSeq demand to remain robust. In addition, there was significant growth in methylation arrays as well as in whole-genome genotyping products.  

Additionally, Illumina made significant developments in its MiSeq platform. The company expects to submit the MiSeq platform to FDA for 510(k) approval before 2012 end. Earlier in March, the company launched TruSeq Amplicon, a cancer panel for MiSeq system to aid researchers to sequence cancer loci. This is significant since this makes sequencing possible even in difficult samples such as formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (“FFPE”) tumor samples.

The company also entered into a partnership with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics to use the MiSeq platform for Siemens’ molecular HIV tests. In addition, the company expanded its Genome Network with the inclusion of British Columbia Cancer Agency to its existing list.

Presently, Illumina retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold). Over the long term, we have a ‘Neutral’ recommendation on the stock.

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