09 Jan Lockheed Martin’s latest health partnership is very personal
Lockheed Martin made several forays into healthcare last year, buying small, specialized companies.
But the defense giant’s latest move in this space is its most personal yet.
Lockheed and San Diego company Illumina are teaming up to study the human genome — the stuff that makes you you — to develop personalized healthcare solutions based on a person’s DNA. Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
The idea of healthcare tailored to a patient’s DNA sequence isn’t new, but with Lockheed’s backing, the two companies say they hope to come up with specialized care for entire populations.
“We will be putting together an end-to-end genomic offering for customers looking to embark on national-scale genome programs,” Horace Blackman, vice president of Lockheed’s health and life sciences sector, said.
The partnership is aimed at government clients as well as commercial healthcare companies, he said.
Lockheed Martin acquired Syracuse healthcare company Systems Made Simple for an undisclosed sum last fall. That purchase was part of Lockheed’s strategy to grow within the federal health IT market, according to Blackman.
But don’t expect any big government contracts to sequence your DNA.
The Illumina partnership is likely to attract countries that have centralized healthcare systems, and the ability to take on such large scale programs, said Michael Hultner, chief scientist at Lockheed’s health and life sciences sector.
Among Illumina’s biggest clients is the U.K. government, which commissioned a project to sequence 100,000 human genomes last year. The goal is to study cancer patients who are not responding to traditional treatments, as well as children with rare diseases, said Alex Dickinson, Illumina’s senior vice president of strategic initiatives.
Illumina made news last year for a breakthrough in reducing the cost of genome sequencing. The company said its DNA machine could transcribe 18,000 genomes a year for $1,000 each, enabling the large-scale study of human DNA. The typical cost of such a procedure was $10,000, according to a 2014 Bloomberg profile of Illumina.