Illumina: Bringing AI To Tumor Sequencing


DNA sequencing is the process of determining the order of nucleotides in a given DNA sequence. DNA sequencing is invaluable to a number of medical and scientific fields including virology, diagnosing illnesses, and biotechnology among other fields. Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine are the nucleotides found in a DNA strand. The ability to detect the various ways that these four nucleotides appear in a given DNA strand has led to the mapping of the complete DNA sequences of a myriad of species, including the human genome. The innovation of DNA sequencing has led to numerous discoveries and invaluable medical and biological research. Illumina is a company that specializes in making products that analyze genes and biological functions.

Business Insider reports that Illumina is partnering with IBM Watson Health to put their artificial intelligence technology in Illumina’s tumor sequencing panel. The process is simple. “A cancer doctor will take a sample of a person’s solid tumor, which will then be sequenced using Illumina’s “TruSight Tumor 170” panel, which will screen for 170 different tumor mutations. Once that happens, Watson will get to work analyzing them and giving back a report to the oncologist, giving them information about the mutations the test found and what the next step might be.” The thinking behind this partnership is to bring faster and more efficient diagnoses to patients that are being treated everywhere and not those that just are being treated in cancer centers and research hospitals. Oncologists will be able to receive proper results in minutes, so diagnosis and treatment options can be arranged more quickly.

According to Forbes, Illumina is also releasing a new DNA sequencer that will reduce the cost of mapping a human genome from $1000 to potentially $100. While the new DNA sequencers, NovaSeq 5000 and 6000, are still very pricey, $850,000 and $950,000, respectively. The reduced cost of the actual processing of DNA sequences has led to thousands of genomes being sequenced in a five-year span. While being great for medical and scientific research, the new machines also bold well for the company in a business sense as this gives them a competitive edge among their competitors by offering an affordable and efficient product. Time will tell how the market will respond to Illumina’s recent moves but it’s clear that the company is continuing to innovate and push the industry forward.


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