Illumina to take full ownership of cancer screening company GRAIL in $8bn deal

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Illumina acquisition of GRAIL : US sequencing company Illumina has agreed to fully acquire California-based cancer screening company GRAIL in a cash and stock deal worth $8 billion.

It was Illumina which had established GRAIL in 2016. Subsequently, it was separated as an independent company driven by Illumina’s NGS technology for developing data science and machine learning and for creating the atlas of cancer signals in the blood, to enable multi-cancer early detection tests.

GRAIL raised nearly $2 billion for backing its innovative technology platform and for developing the Galleri test.

According to Illumina, an earlier version of Galleri could detect over 50 cancer types, of which more than 45 have no recommended screening in the US.

GRAIL is expected to commercially launch Galleri next year as a multi-cancer, laboratory-developed test for detecting cancer early from the blood.

The cancer screening company intends to follow the launch of Galleri with future blood-based tests for cancer diagnosis, detection, and post-treatment monitoring of patients with cancer.

Illumina acquisition of GRAIL

Illumina acquisition of GRAIL. Photo courtesy of GRAIL, Inc.

Commenting on Illumina acquisition of GRAIL, Francis deSouza – Illumina President and CEO, said: “Over the last four years, GRAIL’s talented team has made exceptional progress in developing the technology and clinical data required to launch the Galleri multi-cancer screening test. Galleri is among the most promising new tools in the fight against cancer, and we are thrilled to welcome GRAIL back to Illumina to help transform cancer care using genomics and our NGS platform.

“Together, we have an important opportunity to introduce routine and broadly available blood-based screening that enables early cancer detection when treatment can be more effective and less costly. Multi-cancer early detection is better for patients, their physicians, and payors. As we accelerate our path to clinical leadership and the path to multi-cancer early detection, we will continue to drive significant value creation for our stockholders.”

As per the deal terms, GRAIL shareholders, that is including Illumina, will be paid $3.5 billion in cash and issued $4.5 billion in shares of Illumina, subject to a collar. Currently, Illumina has a stake of 14.5% in GRAIL.

In addition to the consideration, GRAIL’s shareholders will get future payments representing a tiered single-digit percentage of certain revenues to the company.

Hans Bishop – CEO of GRAIL, commenting on Illumina acquisition of GRAIL, said: “Cancer is one of society’s most significant challenges, with most cancer being detected too late. We believe multi-cancer early detection technology could address a tremendous unmet need and reduce the cancer burden worldwide.

“Combining forces with Illumina enables broader and faster adoption of GRAIL’s innovative, multi-cancer early detection blood test, enhancing patient access and expanding global reach.

“We are excited about this next step in our journey to transform cancer detection and outcomes and create value for patients and their families and communities, health care providers and payors, employers, and stockholders.”

The deal, which is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, is expected to be closed in the second half of next year.

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