Illumina Unveils DNA Sequencing Machine Delivering a $200 Genome
Comment of the Day

September 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Illumina Unveils DNA Sequencing Machine Delivering a $200 Genome

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:  

Many consumers have been introduced to their DNA through relatively low-cost tests like those marketed by 23andMe Holding Co. that analyze small snippets of the genome for clues to disease risk and ancestry. Whole-genome sequencing can provide a far clearer, more accurate view of patients’ genetic makeup that doctors can use to precisely identify some diseases, including certain forms of cancer and heart disease. However, the price of performing the tests, along with their interpretation, has been a barrier for many patients that companies have been trying to bridge.

More efficient machinery and materials reduce customer cost to sequencing one genome, or the complete set of genetic material, Illumina said, adding that costs would range from less than $200 per genome, with discounts for bulk use, to $240 for a higher-quality analysis. Slashing the price of reading DNA could allow the practice to move into the mainstream, where it might be used to better tailor medications or treatments to people or have other health benefits.

“This will be a huge force in terms of significantly increasing accessibility to genomics in a number of ways,” deSouza said in an interview ahead of the announcement. “It will democratize access to genomics by allowing sequencing to be offered to hospitals and researchers at much lower prices.”


Eoin Treacy's view

Illumina is a highly cyclical business. They are the clear leader in developing machines for genetic sequencing. Every few years they bring out a new machine that delivers more efficient and cheaper sequencing. That kickstarts an upscaling cycle among its customers which boosts sales over the next 18 months.

The challenge in the short-term is the company has gone ahead with its acquisition of Grail; the leader in blood biopsies. The synergies are obvious since both rely on fast genetic sequencing. The challenge comes from European regulators who believe Illumina already has a dominant position in sequencing and incorporating Grail will only exaggerate that lead.

The share has a long-term sequence of multi-year ranges, one above the last. It is currently steadying from the $200 area which coincides with the upper side of the underlying 2014-17 range. A sustained move above the August peak near $230 would signal a return to demand dominance beyond the short term.

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