Oxford Nanopore and Illumina Announce Strategic Alliance
Mon 12th January 2009
note: Technology referred to as BASE sequencing in this press release has since been referred to as 'exonuclease sequencing' (see 'about Oxford Nanopore Technologies' below).
Illumina and Oxford Nanopore Enter into Broad Commercialization Agreement
Single-Molecule DNA Sequencing System Promises Dramatic Improvement in Cost, Speed, Versatility, and Simplicity of Sequencing
San Diego, Calif. and Oxford, UK — January 11, 2009 — Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies (“Oxford Nanopore”) today announced a strategic alliance including a commercialization agreement and equity investment. Under the terms of the commercialization agreement, Illumina will exclusively market, sell, distribute, and service BASE™ Technology products developed by Oxford Nanopore for DNA sequencing into the research and diagnostic markets on a worldwide basis. Illumina and Oxford Nanopore will share profits generated from sales.
Oxford Nanopore’s new generation sequencing system uses protein nanopores coupled with a processive enzyme. This system is designed for direct electrical identification of DNA bases at the single-molecule level, without the need for fluorescent labels. Currently in development, this technology has the potential to provide substantial advantages over current sequencing approaches, not only in speed and cost but also in simplicity and versatility of overall workflow. The removal of the traditional fluorescent labeling step and reduced burden of sample preparation are highly desirable in future generations of sequencing technology.
As part of the agreement, Illumina made an equity investment of $18.0 million (£11.8 million), which will be used to accelerate the development of BASETM Technology. Illumina has also agreed to make an additional equity investment upon the achievement of a specific technical milestone.
“Oxford Nanopore’s technology holds tremendous promise to achieve the sub-$1,000 human genome,” said Jay Flatley, President and CEO of Illumina. “Making electrical measurements of unmodified DNA removes the need for complex sample prep and the high-performance optics found in today’s sequencing systems. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with Oxford Nanopore.”
Oxford Nanopore’s CEO, Dr Gordon Sanghera commented, “This alliance brings together today’s commercial leader in the field and what we believe will be the future’s best sequencing technology. The agreement reflects the rapid progress we have made in developing nanopore technology towards being the first label-free, single-molecule sequencing system. The partnership will enable us to further accelerate our development and enable broad commercialization through Illumina’s significant commercial infrastructure.”
About Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd
Oxford Nanopore was founded in 2005 on the science of Professor Hagan Bayley of the University of Oxford. Since its inception, the Company has focused on developing the pioneering work of Professor Bayley into a mass producible biochip and reader system for molecular analysis. Nanopores have been researched for more than 15 years at a number of the world's most prestigious academic institutions including Harvard, MIT, NIST, the University of Massachusetts, Texas A&M University, and the University of Oxford.
BASE(TM) (Bayley Sequencing) technology uses an adapted protein nanopore coupled with a processive exonuclease enzyme to sequence DNA. The enzyme cleaves individual bases from a strand of DNA, and sequentially introduces the bases into the aperture of the nanopore. An ionic current is continually flowing through the nanopore, and as individual bases travel through the nanopore, each one creates a characteristic disruption in this current. This signal is recorded electronically and interpreted to identify the DNA base. Recordings from multiple channels in parallel allows high-throughput sequencing of DNA.
The technology is label-free and sensitive at the single-molecule level, meaning that it removes the need for fluorescent labels, optical imaging and instrumentation, and the need for complex sample preparation including DNA amplification. By scaling up into a massively parallel sequencing process on an array chip, this method has the potential to deliver dramatic improvements in cost, speed, simplicity and versatility of sequencing.
Illumina (www.illumina.com) is a leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of next-generation life-science tools and integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function. Using our proprietary technologies, we provide a comprehensive line of products and services that currently serve the sequencing, genotyping, and gene expression markets, and we expect to enter the market for molecular diagnostics. Our customers include leading genomic research centers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organizations, and biotechnology companies. Our tools provide researchers around the world with the performance, throughput, cost effectiveness, and flexibility necessary to perform the billions of genetic tests needed to extract valuable medical information from advances in genomics and proteomics. We believe this information will enable researchers to correlate genetic variation and biological function, which will enhance drug discovery and clinical research, allow diseases to be detected earlier, and permit better choices of drugs for individual patients.
"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: this release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements are Illumina's ability (i) to develop and commercialize further our BeadArray™, VeraCode®, and Solexa® technologies and to deploy new sequencing, gene expression, and genotyping products and applications for our technology platforms, (ii) to manufacture robust instrumentation and reagents technology, together with other factors detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including our recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q or in information disclosed in public conference calls, the date and time of which are released beforehand. We disclaim any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements beyond the date of this release.