Illumina, NanoString and QIAGEN Make News at JP Morgan Conference

At the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference held this month, several instrument companies updated their 2017 sales results and previewed 2018 revenue figures. In addition, companies announced NGS news.



At the conference, Illumina announced preliminary 2017 revenues of $2,750 million, a 15% increase. This is the result of more than 25% sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, including a 30% jump in sequencing consumables revenue. In 2016, company sales grew 19%. Illumina President and CEO Francis deSouza specified the consumer and clinical genomics market as the leaders for growth last year. In 2018, Illumina revenues are expected to maintain a double-digit growth rate, rising 13%–14% to around $3,120 million. The company also provided an update on its installed base, announcing a total of 11,000 systems in the field (see graph below), including 265 of the NovaSeq system, which was launched a year ago.

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As usual, the conference served as a launching ground for a new Illumina system. This year, Illumina announced the iSeq 100 (see Illumina Debuts $20,000 Sequencer). The iSeq platform is the company’s first semiconductor-based sequencing instrument. The compact system, measuring just 12 in. in width, features cartridge-based SBS chemistries. Shipping begins this quarter.

The company also announced a commercial partnership with its major competitor in the NGS market, Thermo Fisher Scientific. Illumina will sell Thermo Fisher’s Ion AmpliSeq technology for use on its sequencing systems for research use–only applications. Based on a multiplex PCR technology, the Ion AmpliSeq chemistry provides amplicon-based enrichment for targeted sequencing applications. Mr. deSouza cited AmpliSeq’s adoption for oncology research as a reason for the agreement, part of Illumina’s desire to bring the best technology available to its customers. He told attendees, “Amplicon sequencing is an important entry point for new NGS customers. The combination of our proven technologies further removes barriers to adoption, bringing more new-to-sequencing customers to our platform.”


NanoString Technologies

Another conference participant providing new financial details was NanoString Technologies. The company announced better-than-expected results for 2017 with sales of $113–$115 million, up from its November 2017 guidance of $109 million to $112 million, which had been decreased from previous guidance (see IBO 11/30/17). In 2016, the firm recorded revenues of $86.5 million.

Product and service revenue for 2017 is expected to total $72 million, surpassing November’s guidance range of $68–$71 million. The company’s total installed base has now reached 605 nCounter Analysis Systems, a 25% increase.

NanoString also provided further details of its financial standing, disclosing $82 million of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of December 31, 2017, which is expected to fund the company through mid-2019. The company also has access to an additional $55 million. To conserve costs, the company is now focusing future R&D on its Digital Spatial Profiling (DSP) and Hyb & Seq platforms (see below), and has reduced its staff by 30 to conserve costs.

In regards to DSP, NanoString announced the availability in the second half of the year of its first DSP product, an FFPE sample preparation system for use prior to analysis of samples by the company’s nCounter systems. DSP studies a tumor in a tissue sample using DNA oligo-tags, thus removing the dye-color limits of a single slide with traditional microscopy. The technology is quantitative and nondestructive. The company also disclosed that at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) meeting next month, it will discuss how DSP can be read out on any NGS system.

In addition, the company updated progress on its Hyb & Seq sequencing technology for clinical applications, promising a four-step preparation workflow. DNA and RNA can be simultaneously sequencing with unlimited read length. Commercial availability is set for 2020.



Sequencing was also a theme of QIAGEN’s presentation. The company disclosed NGS sales (including targeted panels, library preparation kits, targeted sample preparation products and the GeneReader) of over $115 million last year, and a 2018 goal of more than $140 million in NGS revenue. New NGS offerings include an Enterprise Genomics Service for customization of panels, and new gene panels and GeneReader chemistry. The second largest market for the GeneReader system is China.

In addition, QIAGEN announced financial targets for 2020, with a goal of a 2016–2020 combined annual organic growth rate of around 7%–9%. As a percentage of revenues, its molecular diagnostics core portfolio is expected to rise to 55% of sales in 2020 compared to 45% in the first nine months of 2017.

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