AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, have chosen Cambridge as the base for a pioneering new genomics research centre.
Hundreds of millions of dollars will be injected into the nervecentre, which will be based at the companies’ new HQ being built at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
The initiative represents arguably the most significant move since the mapping of the Human Genome – steered by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute – to leverage genomics research to find cures to the world’s most insidious diseases.
Sanger is suitably one of the partners in the new venture, along with genomics sequencing pioneer Craig Venter’s enterprise, Human Longevity Inc. The Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland is also partnering in the venture.
AZ said the new genomics centre would transform drug discovery and development across its entire research & development pipeline.
The new Cambridge genomics centre will develop a bespoke database comprising genome sequences from samples donated by patients in its clinical trials together with associated clinical and drug response data.
AstraZeneca believes that embedding genomics across its research and development platforms will:-
1 – Deliver novel insights into the biology of diseases
2 – Enable the identification of new targets for medicines
3 – Support selection of patients for clinical trials
4 – Allow patients to be matched with treatments more likely to benefit them.
Menelas Pangalos, executive VP for innovative medicines & early development at AstraZeneca said: “Using the power of genomics is the foundation of our ambition to develop the most innovative and impactful treatments for patients.
“With the advent of next generation sequencing and the increased sophistication of data analysis, the time is now right to immerse ourselves fully in the international genomics community through these pioneering collaborations and through the creation of our own genome centre.
“We will leverage information from up to two million genome sequences, including over 500,000 from our own clinical trials, to drive drug discovery and development across all our therapeutic areas. Genomics will be fundamental to our laboratory research, our clinical trials and the launch of our medicines for patients.”
AstraZeneca aims to share up to 500,000 DNA samples with Human Longevity, Inc, from which Human Longevity will sequence full genomes and deploy its state-of-the-art machine learning, pattern recognition and other analytical techniques.
These genomic samples will include those donated by patients under optional informed consent in AstraZeneca’s clinical trials. AstraZeneca will also gain access to Human Longevity’s unique database of up to one million integrated genomic and health records to add to its analysis.
AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research will focus on the creation and use of a bespoke database of genome sequences from samples donated by patients in its clinical trials over the past 15 and over the next 10 years, integrated with associated clinical and drug response data.
The Centre will access up to 500,000 genomes available through AstraZeneca’s collaborations and from the public domain. The centre will be located in AstraZeneca’s corporate headquarters in Cambridge and work closely with the international genomics community to derive broad scientific and clinical benefit from these unprecedented genomic resources.
AstraZeneca will establish a research team led by a genomics expert of international reputation, embedded within The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s world-renowned Genome Centre in Cambridge UK.
AstraZeneca will share genomic samples and associated clinical data, plus its drug development expertise across core therapy areas. The two parties will identify new targets and biomarkers with potential use in diagnostic tests.
Bahija Jallal, executive VP, MedImmune, said: “The fields of genetics and genomics evolve so rapidly that no single company can internalise this type of research and do it all themselves.
“We are acutely aware of this, which is why we have chosen to work with the genomics community to leverage external expertise in genomic analyses and the design of large-scale genetic studies.
“Together, with the rich clinical data from our biobank, we will translate these findings into better understanding of disease and ultimately, more effective treatments for patients.”
In line with AstraZeneca’s open innovation approach to research and development, research findings from all collaborations across its genomic platform will be published in peer-reviewed journals, contributing to the broader scientific understanding of the genetic influence of disease and positioning AstraZeneca as a key player in the global genomics research community.
AstraZeneca and MedImmune are sponsors of the Life Science Innovation category of the Business Weekly Awards.
from Business Weekly http://ift.tt/1MMocBN