Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) and Genomics plc today announced a three-year collaboration, extendable to five years, to use human genetics and machine learning to improve discovery of targets for precision medicines, and to advance understanding of the clinical impact of human genetic variation and patient stratification in diseases with significant unmet need. The goal of the collaboration is to further advance Vertex’s efforts to develop transformative precision medicines for people with serious diseases.
Genomics has developed a unique analysis engine, which uses genetics to understand human biology and the likely efficacy and safety of potential novel medicines. The Genomics engine is the largest of its kind in the world, with over 100 billion data points. It links human genetic variation at over 14 million positions in the human genome to changes in 7,000 molecular, cellular, and physiological measurements and disease outcomes. The company uses proprietary machine learning and statistical algorithms to predict the impact of therapeutic interventions.
“Human biology and genetics are a foundation of drug discovery at Vertex and the team at Genomics brings together a unique combination of sophisticated data science and human genetics,” said Dr. David Altshuler, Executive Vice President Global Research, and Chief Scientific Officer, Vertex. “This partnership will pioneer new uses of genomic tools and technologies to advance Vertex’s ongoing work and investment at our Oxford Research Site and globally to bring new medicines to the patients that need them.”
“Human genetics has already been shown to have a substantial impact on the success of novel drug targets. Our next generation of data and algorithms promises to be transformative, not just for target discovery but in biomarker selection and patient stratification,” said Professor Peter Donnelly FRS, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Genomics plc. “We are delighted to be partnering with one of the most innovative and successful companies in the global biotech sector to help realise that promise to benefit patients and their families.”
Scientists from Vertex and Genomics will work closely together to incorporate their deep understanding of human genetics into research and development related to target discovery and target validation in certain diseases. Both companies will also have the opportunity to suggest additional diseases for the collaboration, where human genetic evidence may be particularly powerful.
In addition to funding the resources committed by Genomics to the collaboration, Vertex will make milestone and royalty payments to the company for novel targets resulting from the collaboration that are taken through clinical development. Dr. Altshuler will also join the Genomics plc Board of Directors.
Additionally, Vertex has made a £10.5 million equity investment in Genomics plc as part of its £25 million Series B funding round also announced today.