|23 March 2017|

US/UK

A groundbreaking new transatlantic research initiative designed to accelerate the speed and effectiveness of drug production – via genetic sequencing – has been announced.

GSK, Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC), and the UK Biobank will work together to generate genetic sequence data from half a million volunteers, providing scientists and researchers with genetic information vital in the development of new medicines.

The UK Biobank has been collecting data from its 500,000 participants over the past decade. GSK and RGC will initially invest in the sequencing of 50,000, a process which will be completed by the end of 2017. Sequencing the rest will take between three and five years.

Patrick Vallance, President, R&D at GSK said advances in human genetics means “we are in a new era of drug discovery”.

“UK Biobank is one of the most important health resources available to scientists today, offering a rich source of information about health and disease. I’m delighted that, through our collaboration with Regeneron, we can enrich this resource for the wider scientific community and also provide potential new opportunities for companies such as ours to develop new medicines for patients.”

The data gathered will be made openly available to the  broader scientific community, after a standard exclusivity period for GSK and Regeneron (9 months for the initial phase).

Regeneron’s President and Chief Scientific Officer, George Yancopoulos added: “Our large-scale sequencing and analysis capabilities, coupled with UK Biobank’s vast trove of de-identified biological and medical information, pose tremendous opportunities for clinically meaningful discoveries that can make a difference for patients. We have long recognized that advancing the pace and clinical utility of human genetics research requires collaboration and an open exchange of data between industry, academia and public health groups, and we are pleased to expand upon our existing foundational research collaborations through this effort with the UK Biobank and GSK. For Regeneron, we believe this initiative will greatly enhance our existing efforts in gene discovery and genetics-guided drug development.”