Illumina and the University Hospital of Tübingen Evaluate Potential of Whole Genome Sequencing to Improve Diagnosis of Full Range of Genetic Diseases
February 19, 2021 -- Illumina, Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) today announced an agreement with the Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics at the University Hospital of Tübingen to assess the value of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) as a first-line diagnostic test for patients with genetic diseases and familial cancer syndromes. Illumina will support the new investigator-initiated study, called the Ge-Med Project, with sequencing, analysis and health economic expertise.
The Institute is the first laboratory in Germany accredited to perform clinical WGS. Previously, it used whole exome sequencing for the diagnosis of rare disease conditions which involves sequencing only around 1% of the genome known to contain the coding regions that provide instructions for making proteins.
The move to WGS is based on a two-year feasibility study by the Institute, supported by Illumina, which found that WGS provided improved diagnosis across a range of rare diseases. For example, as many as 75% of genetic eye diseases were accurately diagnosed using WGS, including some forms of disease that could only be identified by sequencing the entire genome. Similar results were found for rare childhood cancers and for conditions that cause developmental delay in children.
In addition to expanding the range of conditions for diagnosis, the new study will examine the ability of WGS to generate scores for the risk of common diseases based on genomic data. Known as a polygenic risk score, this will help identify individuals that may benefit from personalized healthcare management.
“We are delighted to be able to study whole genome sequencing as a diagnostic in an expanded range of conditions because we have demonstrated that it changes the management of patients who previously remained unresolved after whole exome and other sequencing approaches,” said Tobias Haack, Head of Molecular Diagnostics at the Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University Hospital of Tübingen.
“We are proud to support the University Hospital of Tübingen on this important step in their genomic work,” said Dr. Phil Febbo, Chief Medical Officer, Illumina. “Offering a clear diagnosis as well as disease risk for common conditions will give patients peace of mind and offer actionable steps to improve their overall health.”
Professor Olaf Rieß said, “We know that the exome isn’t the whole story when looking for answers to rare diseases and we have proven the value that WGS brings to families who otherwise would wait years for a diagnosis, or may never even receive one. Through the new study, we hope to help Germany lead the way in applying cutting edge genomics to improve healthcare.”
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit www.illumina.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
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