Company Update (NASDAQ:ILMN): Illumina, Inc. and NRGene Announce Collaboration to Develop New Molecular Breeding Tools for Cattle


Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) and NRGene announced a collaboration to develop new molecular breeding tools for cattle. As a first step, the companies also announced the completion of a high quality genome assembly of the Nellore cattle in conjunction with researchers at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil.

The companies will work together to sequence and assemble additional cattle individuals from different breeds to accelerate knowledge of genetic variation across all cattle breeds. This information will aid in the development of new commercial tools that can be used for genomic selection and other genomic technologies in cattle, helping to accelerate breeding programs to enhance global food (meat and milk) production efforts.

“We look forward to this next phase of our strategic collaboration with NRGene to accelerate global cattle breeding efforts through additional sequencing studies and, ultimately, the commercialization of improved genomic selection tools,” said Rob Brainin, Vice President and General Manager, Applied Genomics for Illumina. “Our greatly expanding understanding of the bovine genome will support numerous breeding programs worldwide, helping to improve production and consumer traits as well as to address global demand for safe, nutritious, healthy protein products.”

Nellore (bos indicus) is the most dominant zebu beef cattle breed for food production in the tropical regions of the world. The sequencing and assembly of its genome was completed using Illumina next-generation sequence data and NRGene’s cloud-based DeNovoMAGICTM 3.0 assembly software package. As more cattle genomes are generated, NRGene’s PanMAGICTM will be used to compare the complete genome sequences of multiple individual samples to capture the broad genomic diversity. This information will be used to design more efficient genotyping tools to support cattle breeding programs.

“Using technology from Illumina and NRGene has enabled us to develop an accurate assembly of a heterozygote genome for Nellore cattle in just two months,” said Jose Fernando Garcia, Professor, Universidade Estadual Paulista. “We believe this reference genome will help Brazilian cattle breeders to dramatically improve local beef production and, more importantly, will provide insights about Nellore reproduction (fertility) and meat quality that can be used to add value to worldwide production.”

The combination of NRGene’s and Illumina’s technologies has already been used for other agriculture projects to decode some of the most complex genomes including the hexaploid bread wheat, tetraploid heterozygote mango, octoploid heterozygote strawberry, along with dozens of new maize, soybean, cotton, and canola genomes.

“This bovine assembly further reveals the diversity in cattle via our expanding capabilities to deliver new tools for genotyping and breeding,” says Gil Ronen, CEO of NRGene. “The ultimate value in our technology is that it can be deployed to analyze and accelerate breeding across any agricultural species: crops, farm animals, and aquaculture.”

Shares of Illumina closed yesterday at $162.35, down $2.69 or -1.63%. ILMN has a 1-year high of $186.88 and a 1-year low of $119.37. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $132.10 and its 200-day moving average is $150.83.

On the ratings front, Illumina has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on January 10, Cantor analyst Bryan Brokmeier reiterated a Hold rating on ILMN, with a price target of $155, which represents a slight downside potential from current levels. Separately, on the same day, Wells Fargo’s Tim Evans maintained a Hold rating on the stock.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Bryan Brokmeier and Tim Evans have a yearly average loss of -2.9% and a return of 17.1% respectively. Brokmeier has a success rate of 45% and is ranked #3810 out of 4340 analysts, while Evans has a success rate of 83% and is ranked #561.

Sentiment on the street is mostly neutral on ILMN stock. Out of 13 analysts who cover the stock, 7 suggest a Hold rating , 4 suggest a Buy and 2 recommend to Sell the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $158.33, which represents a slight downside potential from current levels.

Illumina, Inc. develops, manufactures and markets integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and function. The company provides sequencing and array-based solutions for genetic analysis in addition to selling products, it provide genotyping, NIPT and whole-genome sequencing services. Its customers include leading genomic research centers, academic institutions, government laboratories, hospitals, and reference laboratories as well as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrigenomics, commercial molecular diagnostic, and consumer genomics companies.