Illumina Puts its Weight Behind Drug Discovery

May 12, 2022

Illumina Backs Genomics for Drug Discovery

The field of genomic medicine has a new major player: Illumina. Historically a DNA sequencing company focused on the engineering and supply of NGS sequencing machines, Illumina has announced a partnership with Deerfield Asset Management to support an expansion into genetic data-based drug discovery.

In an interview with STAT News, Illumina’s CEO Francis deSouza said he wants the company to “catalyze the era of genomic medicine.” With Illumina so well-established in the sequencing space, their move into drug discovery is a logical one. Accelerating the development of the myriad applications of their technology will thus increase demand and attract investment from pharmaceutical companies.

Applications and Competition

Tailored medicine based on individual or population genetics, referred to as genomic medicine or precision medicine, requires a three-fold approach: high-quality raw sequence data, accomplished computer scientists and bioinformaticians to analyze the data, and molecular biologists to extrapolate the findings to actionable insights for drug development.

In the space of providing sequence data, Illumina’s major competitors are Oxford Nanopore and Pacific BioSciences (PacBio), companies which have tried to carve out their own niche under Illumina’s shadow in long-read sequencing technology. However, the precision medicine field is still in its infancy and is primarily found as a research focus within companies with broader interests or cash to burn.

The Potential of Genomic Medicine

However, the high profile move of Illumina into the genomic medicine space validates the field as a cutting edge area of research with huge potential, both in market value and in its potential to help people. Precision oncology has been one of the first successful applications of this approach, where tumors are tested for genetic biomarkers that are predictive of a drug’s success. This biomarker-based approach is also used for cystic fibrosis and other monogenic diseases.

To realize the promise of precision medicine now that availability and cost of genetic sequencing allows for mass availability, the field needs investments like that of Illumina and Deerfield to put in the analytical infrastructure to mine drug targets and potential therapeutic strategies from raw genetic data. Genomic medicine promises to have numerous advantages over traditional therapies, from reduced side effects/off-target effects to significantly greater efficacy.

Outsourcing Bioinformatics Analysis

For companies and research institutions entering this space, the associated data storage and computational pipeline development can be daunting. Using a specialized bioinformatics service provider like Bridge Informatics solves many of the challenges associated with bioinformatics and genomic data analysis. Our scientists are highly skilled computer scientists and software engineers that have bench experience, giving them a unique perspective to understand biological problems. Book a free discovery call with us to discuss your project needs.

Jane Cook, Journalist & Content Writer, Bridge Informatics

Jane is a Content Writer at Bridge Informatics, a professional services firm that helps biotech customers implement advanced techniques in management and analysis of genomic data. Bridge Informatics focuses on data mining, machine learning, and various bioinformatic techniques to discover biomarkers and companion diagnostics. If you’re interested in reaching out, please email or


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