Ilumina (ILMN) Forms New Company for Gene Based Cancer Test
Shares of Ilumina Inc. (ILMN) were up +10.82 or +6.55 percent to $175.99 in Monday’s premarket after the company announced it was forming a new company to develop a simple blood test for the early screening of cancer in people that did not show symptoms. Ilumina stock closed at $165.17 per share, down -2.55 or -1.52 percent in Friday’s regular trading session.
San Diego, California based Ilumina Inc. was founded in 1998 and manufactures and markets integrated analytical systems for genetic variation and biological function.
Ilumina announced on Sunday that it would be starting a company called GRAIL with a group of investors to develop and market a blood test to detect genetic evidence of cancer through what is known as a “liquid biopsy”. The company is betting that liquid biopsies will become the new way of detecting and treating cancer.
According to Ilumina, the test will be able to screen people with no cancer symptoms, detecting the disease in its early stages when treatment has the highest probability of being successful. Evidence of cancerous tumors can be found in blood as cells from the tumor or in DNA fragments shed from the tumor cells. The simple blood test will not only be able to make an early cancer diagnosis, but will also replace painful and often inaccurate tissue biopsies currently being used to detect cancer.
Jay Flatley, Chief Executive Officer of Illumina, as well as Chairman of the Board of GRAIL said in the company’s press release that, “We hope today is a turning point in the war on cancer. By enabling the early detection of cancer in asymptomatic individuals through a simple blood screen, we aim to massively decrease cancer mortality by detecting the disease at a curable stage.”
Dr. Richard Klausner, Illumina’s former Chief Medical Officer and NCI Director, as well as a Director of GRAIL, said that, “The holy grail in oncology has been the search for biomarkers that could reliably signal the presence of cancer at an early stage. Illumina’s sequencing technology now allows the detection of circulating nucleic acids originating in the cancer cells themselves, a superior approach that provides a direct rather than surrogate measurement.”
Ilumina has recruited a world class team of industry and cancer experts for GRAIL’s development of the blood test. Ilumina will be GRAIL’s largest stockholder, with an initial investment of $100 million. Arch Venture Partners is the other lead investor, with additional participation from Amazon’s Bezo’s Expeditions, Sutter Hill Ventures and Bill Gates.
Ilumina stock is reacting favorably to the news; however shares are significantly lower than the $242.37, marking the stock’s yearly high. The new blood test, if successful could revolutionize the treatment of cancer.
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