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Warburg Pincus, Illumina & Sutter Hill Launch New Genomics Co. Helix With $100M

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Private equity firm Warburg Pincus is joining Sutter Hill Ventures and the industrial gene sequencing company Illumina are committing $100 million to make a foray into the wild world of custom genomics with the launch of a new company — Helix.

Based in San Francisco, Helix is aiming to be a central repository for personalized genetic information. Jay Flatley, the chief executive of Illumina will serve as chairman of the new company’s board.

The idea is to enable low cost genetic testing for consumers and provide them with a secure location for that genetic information to reside while at the same time opening up the information to service providers working with genetic data to provide customized applications tailored to people’s specific genetic characteristics.

Think of it as an application program interface for personalized genetics on one hand and an iTunes for gene-based applications and services on the other.

Helix’s first official partners are the Mayo Clinic, which is also making a strategic investment in the company, and the Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings.

Think of it as an application program interface for personalized genetics on one hand and an iTunes for gene-based applications and services on the other.

It’s not the first time that Warburg Pincus has worked with the Mayo Clinic on a deal. The two have worked together on a joint venture in Beijing through the Warburg-backed Amcare Corp.

The market for personalized genetics has exploded globally, with applications ranging from the lifesaving to the ludicrous. Everything from personalized cancer therapies to predictive software for faces based on genetic markers can be gleaned from a simple swab or blood sample.

Companies like 23andMe use genetic information to test for genealogical information, and Illumina has a number of companies that it’s backed through its accelerator, which are waiting to launch on the Helix platform.

Illumina will include information about the company on its balance sheet, and has said the pro rata impact of the deal was estimated to dilute the company’s non-GAAP earnings per share by about ten cents.

According to a person with knowledge of the deal pricing will be in line with current services that cost between $99 and $199.

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