Illumina launches next-generation DNA sequencers

By Deena Beasley

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Illumina Inc, the top maker of DNA sequencers used to speed drug development and other research, on Thursday announced the launch of its next-generation NovaSeq X systems, which it said can generate more than 20,000 whole genomes per year, or 2.5 times that of prior sequencers.

The larger-scale throughput will make the systems, the largest of which is priced at $1.25 million, more cost-effective for customers, Illumina Chief Commercial Officer Susan Tousi told Reuters.

She said the new sequencers will also for the first time allow for data to be processed directly on the instrument. "Oftentimes processing that data can cost as much as actually sequencing the sample," she said.

Illumina last launched a new high-throughput product line in 2017.

The company said the new sequencers deliver 90% reduction in packaging, 50% reduction in plastic waste and eliminate dry ice shipments, expanding global access to genomic medicine.

"Today, we are forging a new path forward to advance more breakthroughs in cancer and genetic disease treatments, precision therapies, and pandemic preparedness,” Francis deSouza, Illumina's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

In addition to genomic analysis equipment, San Diego-based Illumina also sells diagnostic tests. The company last year paid $7.1 billion to purchase former subsidiary Grail, which is developing a blood test to detect multiple types of cancer.

That deal has sparked antitrust challenges in both the United States and Europe, where regulators have called for Illumina to divest its ownership of Grail.

Shares of Illumina have fallen by about 47% so far this year.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley in San Diego; Editing by Bill Berkrot)