Illumina CEO Francis deSouza announced a partnership with Roche and unveiled two new DNA sequencers during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

Illumina CEO Francis deSouza announced a partnership with Roche and unveiled two new DNA sequencers during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Two DNA sequencing companies raised more than $140 million combined, Daré Bioscience inked a potential commercialization deal worth up to $310 million, and Human Longevity sold its cancer division for $37 million, and separately, acquired a company.

Those were a few of the San Diego highlights announced before and during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, biotech’s biggest annual meeting that kicked off Jan. 13 in San Francisco.

Closely watched was a presentation from Illumina, San Diego’s largest life sciences company with a $47 billion market cap.

Illumina debuted two new DNA sequencing machines, which look to lower sequencing costs and quicken the analysis of genetic data. Such data has proliferated, from ancestry tests to researchers shedding light on disease risk.

Analyst Puneet Souda with SVB Leerink said the announcement overshadowed Illumina’s growth outlook that came in below expectations.

In unaudited financials Illumina recorded $3.5 billion in 2019 revenue, which Illumina CEO Francis deSouza said during the event is expected to rise 9% to 11% this year. Wall Street analysts expected a 12.6% increase in revenue during the period.

Souda said the company will likely exceed its conservative forecast, in part because of more government initiatives to study the genes of large populations. The goal: spur better diagnosis and treatment.

Illumina and Genomics England — which is affiliated with the U.K. government — during the conference announced a partnership to sequence up to 300,000 genomes over five years.

“In 2020, these projects should begin to scale and contribute more meaningfully to revenue growth,” Souda said.

Longer term, Illumina also announced, during the event, a 15-year partnership with Roche, eyeing improved cancer prediction, detection and treatment, including collaborating on diagnostics.

This year has already been eventful for Illumina. Before the conference, the company said it would no longer buy Pacific Biosciences for $1.2 billion, following antitrust action from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority.

Beyond Illumina, smaller genomics outfits in San Diego plan to staff up after recent financings.

Element Biosciences on Jan. 9 announced an $80.3 million round as the company seeks to make genome sequencing more accessible.

“Element’s vision is to create disruption in each of the basic elements that comprise a sequencing platform, such as surface chemistry, sequencing chemistry, detection, and data analysis,” said Molly He, CEO and co-founder of Element.

That same day, Omniome closed a $60 million round. The company — among those in San Diego with an Illumina pedigree — will use the funds to finish prototype DNA technology instruments.

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