Home Tech The “Google of genomics” meets the techbashers of antitrust

The “Google of genomics” meets the techbashers of antitrust


IN 2013 MEREDITH HALKS MILLER, a laboratory director at Illumina, the world’s biggest gene-sequencing firm, spotted something odd as she examined the blood of expectant mothers, looking for abnormalities in the fetuses they carried. In some cases, the DNA of the unborn children was normal, but that of the mothers was not. Suspecting the women had cancer, she went to her superiors, only to be met with scepticism. She pushed nonetheless. “I was determined to bring this to light. As a doctor, I really wanted to help these women,” she says. Her intuition proved right. “Sure enough, every person I predicted had cancer had cancer.”

Her hunch led to the foundation of GRAIL, a pioneering company focused on detecting cancers using blood tests even before any symptoms have emerged. Illumina spun it out in 2016 (tech tycoons such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates were early backers), only to repurchase it again in a $7bn deal last month, shortly…

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