SAN DIEGO—Illumina, Inc. announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Santa Clara-based NextBio, a leader in clinical and genomic informatics whose powerful big-data platforms aggregate and analyze large quantities of phenotypic and genomic data for research and clinical applications, according to Illumina. With the addition of NextBio's platform upon completion of the acquisition, Illumina says it will be able to offer customers enterprise level bioinformatics solutions designed to accelerate the discovery of new associations between the human genome and disease, and ultimately, enable the application of those discoveries within healthcare. The transaction is expected to close by the end of October.
“This agreement with NextBio demonstrates Illumina's unwavering commitment to drive the adoption of sequencing in new markets and vastly improve the genomic information workflow,” said Jay Flatley, president and CEO of Illumina. “NextBio enables the classification and aggregation of phenotypic and clinical data within a single environment and allows analysis of that data at unprecedented speed and scale. The combination of Illumina's BaseSpace cloud computing environment for next-generation sequencing with NextBio's platform for integrating patient data will allow us to deliver solutions that seamlessly integrate the entire workflow from sample to result.”
News of the NextBio acquisition came hard on the heels of an announcement made by Flatley during a conference call held to recap Illumina's third quarter earnings that the company is exiting the PCR market in order to train its R&D and commercialization resources fully on the “tremendous opportunities” that exist for its sequencing and array technologies. Illumina's decision was based in part on its belief that sequencing has advantages over qPCR technology for gene expression applications, Flatley said. Illumina entered the qPCR space in the summer of 2010 when it announced that it had acquired privately held nucleic acid analysis firm Helixis in a deal worth up to $105 million
NextBio's platform allows customers to quickly compare their experimental results against thousands of published and private data sets by means of a correlation engine, which pre-computes billions of significant connections between disparate data elements and helps discover new associations. NextBio Clinical, which in 2012 passed an independent HIPAA audit, is designed for seamless integration with existing clinical and research systems. Backed by highly scalable software as a service (SaaS) enterprise technology, it is capable of analyzing petabytes of data.