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Forensic Genomics Company Spun-Off From Illumina

Crime scene tape

(Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

25 August 2017. A new company is being established to provide genomics analysis systems for law enforcement, spun-off from a leading maker of genomics systems. Verogen Inc., in San Diego, is an off-shoot of Illumina Inc., a developer of systems for genomic sequencing, with financing from life science venture investor Telegraph Hill Partners in San Francisco.

Verogen first plans to market Illumina’s systems developed for forensics applications before designing and developing its own products. Illumina is granting the rights to its forensics sequencing system, the MiSeq FGx, to Verogen, which will provide marketing and service to current and new customers in law enforcement, criminal investigations, and public safety. Verogen will also provide associated preparation kits and analytical software.

Illumina says the MiSeq FGx incorporates recent advances in genomics since the establishment of DNA analysis in crime labs 20 years ago. The company says the system makes possible high-throughput genomic analysis in forensics similar to techniques applied in medical research and diagnostics. These techniques can analyze more of the genome in a single test than most DNA analysis techniques in today’s crime labs, and analyze many samples and millions of DNA fragments in parallel, rather than one fragment at a time.

DNA analysis in forensics is often difficult, due to incomplete and compromised specimens, making sample preparation a critical part of the workflow.  In addition, results need to be evaluated and compared to national or international databases for criminal investigations or intelligence analysis.

According to Illumina, the MiSeq FGx was first installed in crime labs, forensic research institutes, and private analytical services in 2016, with the earlier adopters expected to become fully operational this year. Illumina is expected to continue marketing, service, and support during a transition period until Verogen gets up to speed. Many of Verogen’s executives transferred from management positions in Illumina.

Telegraph Hill Partners is a venture capital company serving life science and health care enterprises with industry-enabling technologies that demonstrate sustained growth and market penetration. The amount of financing provided by Telegraph Hill Partners to Verogen or its involvement in the company’s management were not disclosed.

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