Wednesday 19 September 2012

Illumina aquires BlueGnome

Illumina just announced that they have aquired the Cambridge based BlueGnome, the company produces their own arrays for genetic screening and the BlueFuse analysis package.

BlueGnome formed in 2002 to commercialise the BlueFuse microarray analysis software. This was the first software I know of that used Bayesian algorithms to generate intensity values for each spot on the array. It worked very well and I was interviewd for a job selling it way back in about 2003 (I did not get the job).

In 2006 BlueGnome launched CytoChip for genetic screening and according to company stats over 100,000 have been run in 40 countries. In 2009 the first BlueGnome baby was born (I am not joking)! BlueGnome had developed a 24Sure, preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) test to screen for all 24 chromosomes to enable selection of normal chromosome complement eggs. The technology allowed a woman to have her 14th and final IVF cycle which was successful due to the selection of an egg that formed a high-quality embryo

Illumina are buying BlueGnome to push into the IVF market. Illumina wants to be a big diagnostics player and recently released test kits for Cancer and other diseases. IVF and fertility is another obvious clinical step.

BlueGnome also sell a library of 26,000 BlueFish fluorescent in-situ hybridisation probes. Probes are labelled by BlueGnome and sent directyl to users for running in their own labs removing the need to produce probes. FISH can be an important tool in cancer diagnostics as well, something Illumina can't have failed to spot.

You can find out more by watching BlueGnome TV.

Hey, I thought Agilent made BlueGnome chips: Yup, they do (did?) According to a March GenomeWeb report Agilent manufactures all BlueGnome's oligo-arrays. Although the CytoCHIP and 24sure are made internally with BAC probes and spotting. Exactly what the deal meams for Agilent is difficult to say but it is another blow from Illumina. Agilent and Illumina used to have cosy co-marketing deals but are more often chasing at each others heels over technologies related to sample prep.

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