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Illumina lands FDA contract
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


SAN DIEGOŚIllumina, Inc. has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide next-generation sequencing in the effort to identify foodborne pathogens. Under the contract, Illumina will provide the FDA with MiSeq sequencing systems and reagents for performing whole-genome analysis on produce and produce-related environmental Salmonella and shigatoxigenic E. coli isolates. The contract will total up to $17 million over the course of five years.
MiSeq, Illumina's fully integrated personal sequencer, offers a sequencing solution from rapid sample prep through automated data analysis and storage in the cloud, enabling users to move cover sequencing preparation, running and analysis in just eight hours. The FDA uses several MiSeq systems already, and is furthering its ability to offer resources and training to develop whole-genome sequencing capabilities as part of a proof-of-concept initiative. In the short term, the FDA hopes to collect data that will enable better source tracking of Salmonella, which remains the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States.
"Illumina applauds the FDA's commitment to improving the public's safety from food-borne illness outbreaks, as demonstrated by its decision to further integrate whole genome sequencing into its efforts," Christian Henry, senior vice president and general manager of Illumina's Genomic Solutions business, said in a press release. "We are extremely pleased MiSeq was selected as the technology platform for this large-scale initiative. We are well positioned to deliver on the program's requirements, based on MiSeq's rapid turnaround time, unmatched accuracy and ease-of-use, as well as our proven track record."
The use of Illumina's MiSeq system will allow the FDA's libraries to generate high-quality whole genome sequences from both historical pathogen collections and from bacteria gathered from produce sources. The sequencing data that results will be uploaded real-time to the National Center for Biotechnology Information curated database, which will bolster the database's ability to perform source tracking searches. The data will also be used as an early proof of concept for the rapid networking of resources using a whole genome sequencing-based approach to the detection, identification and trackback of pathogens. Sequencing offers accurate subtyping and cluster analysis in the investigation of food-borne outbreaks and for tracking the outbreak back to its food or environmental source, and Illumina's system in particular enables the screening of bacterial pathogens given its speed, high resolution and accuracy, which makes it easier to identify closely related bacterial isolates.  
The contract comes on the heels of an announcement of another expansion to Illumina's sequencing offerings. The company has announced the launch of its TruSeq Stranded mRNA and Total RNA Sample Preparation Kits for RNA sequencing. The kits allow researchers to conduct gene expression studies quickly and easily, providing complete views of transcriptomes even from low-quality RNA samples such as formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples.      
SOURCE: Illumina press release
Code: E09181201



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