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DNA sequencing giant Illumina announced Thursday that it would enter the field of drug discovery, a major shift for a company that, since its founding in 1998, has thrived instead by selling picks and shovels to the prospectors of biotech’s various gold rushes.

The effort will be a partnership with Deerfield Asset Management, an investment firm, which the company said will provide “expertise in early stage drug development,” and will aim to identify proteins that can be targets for new medicines using genetic data and artificial intelligence.

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