Source: Akhilesh Sharma/Fotolia
Source: Akhilesh Sharma/Fotolia

Illumina said today it has acquired Conexio-Genomics, a developer of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing solutions, for an undisclosed price.

The acquisition comes about a year after the companies teamed up to launch the TruSight HLA sequencing solution. Conexio’s Assign software provides analysis and reporting for TruSight, a sequencing panel designed to offer accurate, phase-resolved HLA typing in a single assay using Illumina next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology. One assay provides high-resolution sequencing of 11 HLA loci.

Illumina said the acquisition will enable it to develop NGS-based transplant diagnostics assays, including a new solution for interrogating genomic variants in the gamma genomic block of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).

The sequencing giant cited initial studies that it said provide strong evidence that matching for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gamma block correlates with a reduced risk of severe acute graft-versus-host-disease (aGVHD) in patients receiving bone marrow transplants.

“The addition of Conexio products and people solidify our HLA capabilities and demonstrate Illumina’s ongoing commitment to HLA and ultimately, to the field of transplant science,” Alex Lindell, Illumina’s associate director, market development for HL, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Conexio team to enhance our HLA offerings.”

Illumina said it will immediately integrate Conexio’s NGS development programs.

During Illumina’s third-quarter conference call with analysts on October 20, CEO Jay Flatley said HLA was an area that reflected the company focus on expanding into clinical markets by offering easy-to-use applications of technology: “We're selling one part number that embodies the full solution that the customer is looking for, and you've seen the early embodiments of that in forensics and HLA.

“You'll see us over time increase our focus on solutions selling where we're not selling a box and then a sample prep kit and then an individual software package,” Flatley added.

Based in Fremantle, Western Australia, Conexio is a privately-held company that employs 13 staffers and has developed technology used in more than 200 laboratories worldwide.

Conexio was founded in 2002 by its CEO David Sayer, Ph.D., and its chief software engineer Damian Goodridge, Ph.D., whose innovations ushered in the use of sequencing in HLA typing in the early 2000s. The two introduced DNA sequencing as a routine clinical technique while employed at Royal Perth Hospital, where Dr. Sayer was a senior medical scientist and Dr. Goodridge, a software developer.

The two then formed Conexio to develop and commercialize products intended to increase accuracy of DNA sequencing based typing. Since then, the company has introduced a complete line of sample-to-report products for genotyping HLA genes with both Sanger sequencing and NGS.

“We are committed to developing new methods that will further advance the knowledge that genetics plays in transplant success,” Dr. Sayer stated.


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