Biogen Idec forms pact with Columbia University to conduct genetics discovery research

Sequencing and analysis facility and shared postdoctoral programme will be established at Columbia

US biotechnology company Biogen Idec has formed a US$30m alliance with Columbia University Medical Center in New York to conduct genetics discovery research on the underlying causes of disease and to identify new treatment approaches.

The agreement will integrate genomics research conducted at Columbia with Biogen Idec’s understanding of disease mechanisms and pathways, and expertise in discovering new medicines.

A sequencing and analysis facility and shared postdoctoral programme will be established at Columbia to support collaborative genetics studies. It will have broad genetic research capabilities and the capacity to launch and complete whole-genome sequencing projects rapidly. It will allow for rapid population-scale DNA sequencing across a broad range of disease areas, focusing on diseases with significant unmet clinical need such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

We are committed to working with leading institutions such as Columbia to advance basic genetic research

David Goldstein, founding director of Columbia University’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, said the collaboration 'marries the exceptional drug development expertise of Biogen with cutting-edge genomics expertise at Columbia University Medical Center'. It will not only focus on target identification and validation at the early stages of drug development, but also facilitate genetically informed evaluation of treatments, he said.

Tim Harris, Senior Vice President, Technology and Translational Sciences at Biogen Idec, added: 'Human genetic technologies and analytics have advanced to the point where they are becoming central to the discovery and development of new medicines.

'We are committed to working with leading institutions such as Columbia to advance basic genetic research and, by combining our unique strengths, accelerating the discovery of potential new treatments.'

The collaboration will enable Biogen Idec and Columbia to investigate the genomes of patients showing unusual treatment responses or unique disease presentations and to explore the connections among genes, pathways, and disease processes. The ultimate goal will be to provide multiple qualified targets for new therapeutic approaches, increasing the potential for the development of new treatments.

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