Garvan Institute and Illumina collaborate to transform the treatment of complex diseases

Illumina, a global genomics and human health company, has partnered with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s TenK10K project to help transform the treatment of complex diseases, starting with autoimmune diseases, with a joint investment of $27 million Australians

The Garvan Institute plans to map 50 million human cells from 10,000 people to identify unique genomic fingerprints of autoimmune diseases, heart disease and cancer, building on the initial success of a clinical trial for the disease Crohn’s

Crohn’s disease affects more than 80,000 Australians. As with many autoimmune diseases, it is currently impossible to predict which treatments will work best for which patients. The OneK1K clinical trial in 10 Sydney hospitals shows that a genetic fingerprinting project led by the Garvan Institute can help match individual patients to the most effective treatment.

Illumina is supporting the project with supplies, equipment and specialized research support, which will provide a critical boost to Garvan’s single-cell and whole-genome sequencing research and enable scale-up for the TenK10K project to be the largest project of its kind. The investment will enable the Garvan Institute to improve how precisely disease-linked immune cell fingerprints can be identified and developed:

  • Commercial tests to identify appropriate therapy for challenging autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease.
  • The first trials of powerful new RNA therapies
  • Potential early targets for cancer treatments and long-term COVID
  • Tests to track the consequences of heart attacks and identify the risk of sudden death.

This work has the potential to enable a major step forward in personalized medicine. In 2022, in a document a science, we announced that we had analyzed the genomic profile of more than a million cells from 1,000 people to identify markers of autoimmune disease. We were able to do this using single-cell sequencing, a new technology that allows us to detect subtle changes in individual cells.”

Professor Joseph Powell, leader of the OneK1K and now TenK10K project at the Garvan Institute for Medical Research

“This led to a proof-of-principle clinical trial in 10 Sydney hospitals to see if we can improve the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Early results suggest we can predict a patient’s response to a therapy based on their genetic profiling. Cell sequencing, which analyzes individual cells rather than an average of many cells, allows us to see fingerprints that we have never been able to distinguish before.”

“Now, with the help of Illumina, TenK10K will build on this work to generate single-cell data from about 50 million cells from 10,000 individuals to further improve the accuracy of disease risk prediction and response to treatment This research will help identify subtle genomic differences in everyone’s cells, which will help us speed up the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.

NSW Minister for Medical Research David Harris congratulated the Garvan Institute for Medical Research and Illumina on this unique partnership.

“This partnership will help advance the field of genomics and personalized medicine, bringing benefits to patients across NSW,” Harris said.

“The future of this work will enable next-generation sequencing of patients’ genomic data to ensure they receive more personalized treatment for chronic and autoimmune conditions.

“NSW has a strong track record of investment in innovative genomics research. New collaborative partnerships like these are vital to ensure NSW continues to be a world leader in delivering cutting-edge, truly translational research that will help to meet the challenges and needs of future health care provision”.

“In 2007 at the age of 11 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis,” says Madeleine Jandura.

“Over the next twelve years I had to deal with countless doctor and specialist visits, blood tests, scans, colonoscopies, emergency room visits, long hospital stays, and a myriad of ever-changing oral and IV medications. Then After exhausting all options with medication, I spent the next five years undergoing four major surgeries.”

“Now I am finally free of this disease, although I will have to deal with the impacts of it for the rest of my life and the possibility of it coming back.”

“I’m excited to hear now how Joseph and his team are working to get faster answers and faster treatments,” she says.

Professor Benjamin Kile, Chief Executive of the Garvan Institute, says: “This partnership is a testament to the world-leading research being done at Garvan, drawing on our unique expertise on the clinical and research fronts. This ground-breaking research is intended to transform patient care for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases.”

“A few years ago, this project would have been impossible,” says Illumina’s Simon Giuliano, Oceania’s commercial manager. “We now have the technology to rapidly and inexpensively detect difference in the genomics of individual cells using next-generation sequencing. And this opens up the potential for a new era of personalized health, where the variation in each cell human body determines the appropriate treatment for an individual’s disease, avoiding trial and error in the past.”


Garvan Institute of Medical Research

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