bioMérieux and Illumina launch revolutionary next-generation sequencing service

bioMérieux EpiSeq is an innovative next-generation sequencing (NGS) service dedicated to the epidemiological monitoring and control of healthcare-associated infections

bioMérieux, a world leader in the field of in vitro diagnostics, and Illumina, a world leader in genomics, have launched bioMérieux EpiSeq, an innovative next-generation sequencing (NGS) service dedicated to the epidemiological monitoring and control of healthcare-associated infections. The bioMérieux EpiSeq service is the first result of the collaboration agreement signed by bioMérieux and Illumina in November 2014 bringing together the companies’ respective leadership positions in microbiology and NGS to jointly develop applications for microbiology sequencing.

bioMérieux EpiSeq provides highly accurate information to health professionals for characterisation of bacteria. By giving hospitals an improved understanding of the genetic markers of virulence and resistance, the service can help them understand how bacteria are transmitted, while enabling better containment of an epidemic, limiting the spread of infectious agents and improving surveillance approaches.

Healthcare professionals have become increasingly concerned about the emergence and reappearance of certain infectious diseases, especially when associated with epidemics and severe health crises. In response to these new public health challenges, suitable epidemiological surveillance tools must be developed to manage infectious risks effectively. Moreover, the bacteria that cause infections often develop antibiotic resistance mechanisms, and the surveillance of these strains is instrumental in infection control efforts.

When used as an epidemiological tool, whole genome sequencing will allow laboratories to obtain extremely precise information about bacteria believed to be involved in infection transmission or as the cause of outbreaks and epidemics. Sequencing will make it possible to establish a correlation between the different characteristics of an infectious agent to determine the chronology of transmission and monitor its spread. This wealth of information will facilitate and speed up decisions by healthcare professionals specialised in infection control in order to take effective measures to limit the spread of these pathogens.

Hospitals facing a suspected epidemic or health crisis will be able to send bacterial isolates to a service laboratory designated by bioMérieux and equipped with an Illumina MiSeq sequencer. The genomic data is stored in a secure cloud platform and analysed using the database and software developed by bioMérieux. Results showing the genomic profile of the infectious agents and the genetic variations identified by sequencing will be sent by bioMérieux to healthcare professionals in a customised, easy-to-interpret report.

The bioMérieux EpiSeq service will first be launched in Europe followed by North America and Asia. The menu will initially consist of Staphylococcus aureus and will subsequently be expanded to include the other bacterial species most commonly responsible for healthcare-associated infections.

'We are very pleased to be the first company to offer our customers an innovative sequencing solution in bacterial epidemiology. The bioMérieux EpiSeq service addresses major public health challenges, combating infectious diseases and resistance to antibiotics,' said Jean-Luc Belingard, Chairman of bioMérieux. 'The launch of bioMérieux EpiSeq marks a new and productive step in our partnership with Illumina for the application of NGS to bacterial genomes. This new offer represents a valuable innovation and opens up new prospects that can bring this revolutionary technology to tomorrow’s healthcare.'

'We are proud to partner with bioMérieux to bring this first-of-its-kind offering to market,' added Jay Flatley, Chief Executive Officer of Illumina. 'NGS can be used to better characterise and understand infection-causing bacteria on a whole genome basis. With the growth of antibiotic resistant strains, this unique offering couldn’t be more timely or important to the future of public health.'

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