Illumina (ILMN) offers unique technology that is used for population and genome studies. More than 10,000 customer-authored scientific papers have been published by Illumina’s user community.
The above diagram gives an overview of Illumina’s key products and technologies. Many of these products are based on the company’s NGS (next-generation sequencing) technologies.
Illumina’s sequencing products’ efficiency and cost have been continuously improving. Since the company’s first sequencer’s launch in 2007, the cost of genome sequencing has dropped by factor of more than 10,000, while time requirements have been reduced by factor of about 2,000.
MiSeq, NextSeq, HiSeq, and HiSeq X are llumina’s key platforms, ranging from $99,000 to $10 million. Illumina’s sequencing platforms can generate genomic data between 500 Mb (megabases) to 1.8 Tb (terabases) per run. 1.8 Tb is equivalent to sequencing 16 human genomes. HiSeq and Hiseq X can generate 1.1 Tb to 1.8 Tb per run and are used mainly for production-scale and population-scale whole-genome sequencing.
The price per Gb (gigabase) of data differs based on the type of instrument used as well as the data application involved. MiSeq, used for targeted panel studies, works at the highest price point of $93 per Gb, while NextSeq, HiSeq and HiSeq X work at $33 per Gb, $29–$20 per Gb, and $10.5–$7 per Gb, respectively.
With competent technology and attractive price points, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have entered into contracts with Illumina, especially in the cancer diagnostics field. Illumina has entered into partnerships with leading companies such as Sanofi (SNY), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to develop NGS-based oncology testing systems.
Illumina’s array technology is used to compare changes in gene sequences to standard genes.
Instead of directly investing in Illumina, investors can get exposure to Illumina’s NGS technologies by investing in the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB). Illumina accounts for 4.09% of its total holdings.