US gene specialist major Illumina has been chosen by the UK government to help a project that will see up to 100,000 people have their genetic makeup mapped.

Genomics England has selected Illumina Cambridge Ltd, the UK subsidiary of the San Diego-based firm, as the preferred partner for the sequencing element of the project. The parties “intend to work quickly towards a definitive agreement”, according to a US regulatory filing.

The project, for which the government has set aside £100 million, was unveiled last year and is a bid to gain a better understanding of cancer and infectious diseases, plus rare diseases. The project is currently in its pilot phase and will be completed by the end of 2017.

The UK will become the first ever country to introduce this technology in its mainstream health system and Genomics England says it is creating “an ethical and transparent programme based on consent”.