Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) announced a collaboration to conduct research studies that are critical to understanding the biology of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). The studies aim to inform the development of new strategies to diagnose and monitor cancer and to help establish ctDNA as an important marker in the study and eventual treatment of cancer.

Traditional biopsies for acquiring tumor DNA are typically invasive and risky and are often not possible. Additionally, single biopsies may not be able to measure the heterogeneity that is often present in tumors. Fortunately, scientists have discovered that dying tumor cells release small pieces of their DNA into the bloodstream. These pieces are called cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA)1 and can be detected in a blood sample via DNA sequencing2.

As global leaders in cancer care and in next-generation sequencing, MSK and Illumina will conduct research trials designed to answer biological and clinical questions about ctDNA in multiple cancer types. MSK will collect samples, and Illumina will apply its best-in-class sequencing technology to detect ctDNA in those samples. The program will work to validate a ctDNA assay to demonstrate correlation between ctDNA signal and cancer burden.

“The possibility of reducing the number of invasive and expensive diagnostic and monitoring procedures with a simple blood draw is a game-changer for cancer patients and for oncology,” said Jose Baselga, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at MSK.

“This relationship between Illumina and MSK will create important data regarding the value, the significance and the potential applications of measuring ctDNA via deep sequencing,” said Dr. Rick Klausner, SVP and Chief Medical Officer of Illumina. “Is ctDNA not simply equivalent to, but superior to current methods of cancer diagnosis and monitoring? Can we replace expensive and invasive monitoring with a blood test? Does ctDNA reflect the total burden of cancer clones, and is it equivalent to or better than biopsies at predicting outcome and therapeutic response? These are the types of questions we will work towards answering.” (Original Source)

Shares of Illumina closed yesterday at $205.71. ILMN has a 1-year high of $242.37 and a 1-year low of $145.12. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $205.06 and its 200-day moving average is $203.52.

On the ratings front, Illumina has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 26, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Sung Ji Nam initiated coverage with a Buy rating on ILMN and a price target of $265, which implies an upside of 28.8% from current levels. Separately, on August 20, Canaccord Genuity’s Mark Massaro reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $250.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Sung Ji Nam and Mark Massaro have a total average return of 5.8% and -7.9% respectively. Nam has a success rate of 68.8% and is ranked #961 out of 3759 analysts, while Massaro has a success rate of 33.7% and is ranked #3622.

Overall, one research analyst has assigned a Hold rating and 7 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $263.75 which is 28.2% above where the stock closed yesterday.

Illumina Inc providessequencing-and array-based solutions for genetic analysis. Itsproducts enabled researchers to explore DNA, helping them create the first map of gene variations associated with health, disease, and drug response.