AstraZeneca launches integrated genomics approach to transform drug discovery and development

The initiative includes new collaborations with Human Longevity, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and The Institute for Molecular Medicine

AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, have announced an integrated genomics initiative to transform drug discovery and development across its entire research and development pipeline.

The initiative includes new collaborations with Human Longevity, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and The Institute for Molecular Medicine. AstraZeneca will also establish an in-house Centre for Genomics Research, which 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 deliver novel insights into the biology of diseases, enable the identification of new targets for medicines, support patient selection for clinical trials and allow patients to be matched with treatments that are more likely to benefit them.

Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines and 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 2 million genome sequences, including more than 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,’ Pangalos added.

Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, 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.

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