Illumina buying Grail for $7.1 billion to bolster oncology research
… Illumina is investing in its oncology and genetic R&D pipeline with its acquisition of Grail …


Acquisition pairs Grail with one of its founding investor organizations and forms a cancer care genetics research leader

John G. Baresky

Gene sequencing leader Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) is investing $7.1 billion in cash and stock to buy oncology diagnostics brain trust Grail Inc. in a pairing of two west coast life sciences companies. Based in San Diego, California, Illumina is a leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of integrated systems for analysis of genetic and biological testing.

Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, advanced healthcare technology Grail is backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Illumina originally founded Grail in 2016 with the intention of it focusing on the development of blood tests that can identify early-stage cancers.

By pairing itself with Grail, Illumina will accelerate its development of gene-sequencing technology for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients while fortifying their pipeline with additional product candidates.

While Illumina helped in the development of Grail as an organization, it is accompanied by several other notable companies that invested in its founding. They include:

Grail’s genomic medicine research involves their collaboration with academic and community hospitals to enroll thousands of patients in their clinical studies. Enormous amounts of data are required to develop and validate blood tests that pair genomic sequencing with intricate computational algorithms to identify cancer-specific patterns in the early stages of formation. One of their primary new product platforms is known as Galleri.

Current clinical trial studies underway by Grail include:

The bioscience exploration Illumina has underway is impressive. Its commercial products and research & development initiatives encompass:

  • Agrigenomics
  • Cancer
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Complex diseases
  • Genetic and rare diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Reproductive health

Their core sequencing and microarray product lines are further complemented by its Illumina COVIDSeq Test. It is a high-throughput NGS test that detects SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, and mid-turbinate nasal swabs.

Illumina accelerates clinical and commercial plans for growth

Founded in 1998, Illumina produced over $3.5 billion in sales in 2019. As essentially a startup company, Grail had reportedly filed for an initial public offering (IP0) and generated less than $100 million in 2019 annual sales. Moving forward, Illumina will be a well-positioned innovator in gene therapy with the addition of Grail and its many clinical and commercial attributes.

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