Tags: illumina | cancer | blood test | investors

Illumina Cancer Blood Test Looks Promising to Investors

Image: Illumina Cancer Blood Test Looks Promising to Investors
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By    |   Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 08:52 AM

Illumina's work on a blood test that can detect genetic evidence of cancer is promising enough to have attracted investments from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Illumina Inc., which makes gene-sequencing machines, told the Journal on Sunday that it is forming a company called Grail with investors that include Gates, Bezos Expedition and Sutter Hill Ventures to develop what is called "liquid biopsies" to detect, diagnose and manage cancer treatments.

Jeff Flatley, Illumina's chief executive and chairman of the new company, said Illumina will be the majority owner of the company while Arch Venture Partners will be the lead investor. The Journal said the company has more than $100 million in its initial financing.

"Everything here is directed at being a pan-cancer test, something that is a universal test," Flatley said, according to Forbes.

Evidence of tumors can be found in blood, via circulating tumor cells or in fragments of DNA that are shed from tumor cells, said the Journal.

Researchers believe that a blood test could be developed to more reliably allow doctors to detect and monitor the disease without tissue biopsies, which could be painful and at times misleading.

Flatley said the Grail's test will zero in on finding mutations that are associated with cancer in DNA. He said Grail will have a "preferential economic relationship with Illumina" and its DNA sequencing expertise.

According to Business Insider, Flatley acknowledged just how difficult Grail's task will be since it will be focusing on a small portion – 0.01 percent – of the body's DNA.

"It's an extraordinarily low amount of DNA in the blood that we're going after," Flatley said.

Illumina has a strong record in the DNA-sequencing technology field, turning it into a $25 billion market-cap company with more than 4,000 employees and almost $2 billion in yearly revenue.

Its machines are now used by researchers, doctors and consumer companies to do a variety of tasks from understanding different types of cancer to decoding someone's ancestry, said Business Insider.

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Illumina's work on a blood test that can detect genetic evidence of cancer is promising enough to have attracted investments from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, according to the Wall Street Journal.
illumina, cancer, blood test, investors
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2016-52-12
Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 08:52 AM
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