Drug Companies Join Initiative to Decode 100,000 Human Genomes

A group of leading drugmakers have joined Genomics England in a new collaboration as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, aimed at accelerating the development of new drugs and diagnostics.

Ten biopharma companies have joined together to create the Genomics Expert Network for Enterprises (GENE) Consortium, to oversee a year-long industry trial. Through the GENE Consortium, companies will work on a year-long industry trial involving a selection of whole genome sequences across cancer and rare diseases, identifying how to best collaborate with clinicians and researchers. The ten biopharma companies participating in the GENE Consortium include AbbVie, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Dimension Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Helomics, Roche, Takeda and UCB.

In 2012, UK Prime Minister David Cameron created Genomics England to decode 100,000 human genomes and translate the work into the National Health Services (NHS) by 2017. The initiative is supported by a £300 million government investment package, the largest national investment in genome science to date. According to Genomics England, nearly 3,000 genomes have already been sequenced.  The hope is that the project will transform treatment for patients, providing faster access to the right treatment and personalized care to complex diseases.

Consortium members will have access to information from 5,000 whole genomes collected from the first stage of the 100,000 Genomics Project, in full compliance with data protection laws. Biopharma companies will gain insights into the evolving area of genome science with a view to identifying new genes and biomarkers that could lead to the development of innovative diagnostics and treatments.

Genomic England also announced that over 28 teams or “domains” will be established for clinical and research experts to work in as part of its Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GeCIP). The teams will focus on a vast range of disease areas, as well as analytical and social sciences. GeCIP, whose members will consist of academic institutions, the NHS Genomic Medicine Centers and industry, will bring together more than 4,000 UK clinicians and scientists, as well as over 500 international collaborators specializing in genomic medicine.

“The domains we are announcing today cover the entire range of diseases within the 100,000 Genomes Project. For example in rare disease there are domains ranging from cardiovascular, neurological to paediatric. In cancer, there are disease specific domains such as breast and colon, and also analyses across multiple cancers looking for common features and pathways. Excitingly many proposals offer added dimensions to the programme such as ethics, social science, state-of-the art analytical methods, and advanced machine learning. Reference library domains also offer a range of key reference databases essential to understanding the impact of the 100,000 Genomes Project on human health,” said Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist for Genomics England. “We hope that this unique collaboration will lead to earlier and more precise diagnoses for patients and, working with companies, will pave the way for new, more targeted therapies and treatments.”

Source: Genomics England

Last updated: 3/26/15; 12:25pm EST

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