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."