Illumina's BeadArray technology to underpin Canadian genotyping in HapMap Project

Montréal 09 January 2003Illumina Inc. has signed an agreement with Genome Québec for the purchase of Illumina's SNP genotyping solution. Illumina's solution includes all aspects of a production-scale laboratory and will be an integral component of the new Genome Québec Innovation Centre, located on the McGill University campus in Montréal, Canada. The genotyping solution will be used to support Canada's contribution to the International HapMap Project as well as genotyping projects for Genome Québec, Genome Canada, McGill University and other academic institutions in Canada.


The Centre, which is also funded by Genome Canada and the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Research (MFER) in Québec, aims to create and develop world-leading capabilities for genomics and proteomics research. The genotyping laboratory solution is built around Illumina's proprietary BeadArray technology and features high sample throughput, unprecedented multiplex levels, laboratory information management system (LIMS) control and low running cost per SNP scored.

The complete offering is fully integrated to ensure optimal SNP genotyping performance. Included in the turnkey offering are Sherlock scanning equipment, GoldenGate assay protocols, LIMS and analytical software, fluid-handling robotics, and access to Sentrix array matrices and reagent supply, along with installation, start-up, training, and support services. When installed, the genotyping laboratory at Genome Québec Innovation Centre will be able to produce routinely one million genotypes per day, the world's largest throughput of any genotyping system outside of Illumina.

Thomas Hudson, M.D., principal investigator and head of the Canadian HapMap Project team, commented: "Illumina's system enables a scale of experimentation and cost-effectiveness that is unmatched in the industry and consistent with what we need to execute our HapMap Project deliverables. We'll leverage Illumina's technology to develop over 150.000 assays and provide the Canadian HapMap contribution, ten percent of the global total."

"Equally important, the system will support a wide range of additional genotyping applications, such as linkage analysis and fine chromosomal mapping, to help the Canadian genomics community contribute materially to an improved global understanding of genetic variation and function."

Announced in late October in Washington DC, the International HapMap Project will speed the discovery of genes related to common illnesses such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease. The project will identify and map blocks of DNA into which the human genome is organised. These haplotype blocks contain many SNPs, single-letter sequence variations that represent the most common source of genetic variation, only one or two of which need to be identified to know all the SNPs associated with that one block.

Project contributors include research groups representing Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Illumina is one of five funded United States organisations working on the project. The company received the largest award of any United States participant and will be responsible for mapping over 10 percent of the haplotypes in the genome. Illumina is collaborating with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University.

Paul L'Archevèque, President and CEO of Genome Québec, added: "It is exciting for all of us to be among the first to integrate this leading-edge technology to Genome Québec Innovation Centre. This is in line with our mission, to create in Québec within five years, one of the most important centres for genomic and proteomic research in the world."

Jay Flatley, Illumina President and CEO, stated: "We are very pleased that Genome Québec will use our BeadArray-based system as the core genotyping platform in the new Innovation Centre. As a fellow HapMap Project participant, we look forward to working closely with Tom Hudson, his colleagues, and other international contributors on this seminal post-genome initiative."

Illumina is developing next-generation tools that permit large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function. The company's proprietary BeadArray technology provides the throughput, cost effectiveness, and flexibility necessary to enable researchers in the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries to perform the billions of tests necessary to extract medically valuable information from advances in genomics and proteomics. This information will help pave the way to personalised medicine.

Genome Québec is a not-for-profit investment organisation created to implement and apply a comprehensive development strategy for the genomics and proteomics research sector in Québec. Working with universities and many private-sector partners, Genome Québec's mission is to establish in Québec one of the world's ten largest research centres in this sector. Québec, already a recognised expert in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, must invest in genomics and proteomics if it is to retain its primary role in these fields and thus continue growing in today's knowledge economy.

Leslie Versweyveld

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