Wow Illumina just spent $8 billion buying GRAIL; arguably the leader in methylation-based early detection of cancer with their Galleri test (read the press release). Get more info over at the website they’ve put together for the deal at, which includes a presentation that also highlights opportunities in MRD.

Francis deSouza: “Over the last four years, @GRAILbio’s talented team has made exceptional progress in developing the technology and clinical data required to launch the Galleri multi-cancer screening test.” 


Surprisingly, Grail did not proceed with their planned IPO (probably challenging given the current economic situation). And perhaps more surprisingly, GRAIL were not bought by one of the leaders in the diagnostics space. Illumina have changed the face of diagnostics by delivering the NGS technology that everyone and his dog (but not Clive’s cat) uses to understand human health as well as try to diagnose some of its nastier conditions and diseases.

However, Illumina have tried many times with diagnostics and have made relatively slow progress on that front and have a relatively poor track record of executing their diagnostic assays. Additionally, these efforts have led to concerns about treading on the toes of their customers and it’ll be interesting to see how those customers react.

In their press-release Illumina state that the deal will “be accretive to Illumina revenue starting in 2021,” – I’m not sure how revenue is counted but at the moment GRAIL buys machines and reagents from Illumina; this will stop once the deal goes through.

An Illumina Grail timeline via Twitter