This week, Illumina, the world’s largest provider of DNA sequencers, acquired Edico Genomics, which offers the DRAGEN (Dynamic Read Analysis for Genomics) platform for NGS secondary analysis, including mapping, alignment, sorting and variant calling. “We believe that our acquisition of Edico Genome is a big step toward realizing the vision of reducing sequencing data acquisition and analysis to a push-button standardized process,” explained Susan Tousi, senior vice president, Product Development, at Illumina.

The DRAGEN platform incorporates a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) for faster data processing, scalability and efficient data storage. Edico cites analysis speeds for the platform of 30x coverage in around 20 minutes compared to hours for CPU-based systems.

DRAGEN secondary analysis pipelines

Although Illumina spearheads developments in NGS data analysis and works closely with developers, the origin of secondary and tertiary analysis solutions have largely been open access sources, specialized private software companies and, more recently, major computing firms. The purchase marks an important investment for Illumina, as it is the company’s first acquisition of a dedicated NGS software analysis platform, although the company invested in NGS data management with the purchase of LIMS firm GenoLogics in 2015 (see IBO 8/15/15).“Illumina acquired the DRAGEN Bio-IT Platform to accelerate NGS secondary analysis,” commented Ms. Tousi. Other sequencer firms that have followed a similar path are Roche, which acquired Bina Technologies in 2014 (see IBO 12/15/14) and QIAGEN, which purchased Ingenuity (see IBO 4/30/13) and CLC in 2013 (see IBO 10/31/13).

“Every Edico customer was/is also an Illumina customer.”

As Illumina and Edico Genomics are long-time collaborators, including working together to enable newborn diagnosis using NGS. DRAGEN has been available on the BaseSpace Sequence Hub, Illumina’s online portal for NGS software, since last fall. “The two companies have partnered for several years,” noted MS. Tousi.

With faster and easier NGS data processing a priority for accelerating the use of NGS, especially in clinics and hospitals, the acquisition can address the hurdles of analysis speed and data processing standardization. “The DRAGEN platform complements Illumina’s sequencing portfolio, enabling customers to benefit from reduced investment in compute infrastructure and accelerated time to result, improving their overall efficiency and enabling greater emphasis on interpretation and reporting,” according to Ms. Tousi.

Discussing the future of the newly integrated companies, Ms. Tousi stated, “Every Edico customer was/is also an Illumina customer. During the integration period, our focus will be on supporting existing and new customers as we bring together Edico and Illumina.” As she explained, “In the near term, we will align Edico’s analysis solutions with our suite of sequencers, delivering optimized analysis solutions for a range of NGS workflows.” This includes product development. “We foresee making continued improvements to DRAGEN technology, further streamlining and integrating with our sequencing portfolio.”

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