Vertex inks deal to add Genomics' database, algorithms to drug discovery toolkit

Vertex Pharmaceuticals ($VRTX) has turned to Genomics to support its attempts to understand the genetic basis of drug targets and diseases. The deal gives Vertex access to an integrated database and analysis tools developed by Genomics, resources it sees advancing its work to validate disease mechanisms.

Boston, MA-based Vertex, like its peers, is looking to use genetic data to improve drug discovery, notably by enhancing its ability to identify which programs are well placed to succeed in the clinic and which are likely to become costly failures. Genomics has built a business around trying to help companies further such ambitions. In particular, Vertex will lean on a genome-phenome database and algorithms created by Genomics as it works through the process of assessing the rationale for pursuing programs further into development.

"Our collaboration with Genomics is aimed at obtaining insights into the genetic underpinnings of specific targets and diseases to help predict which potential medicines may have success moving from discovery research toward patients," Paul de Bakker, head of computational genomics at Vertex, said in a statement. Genomics sees the tools helping Vertex to weed out programs with possible safety concerns early in the R&D process, while also providing it with a way to identify opportunities to reposition existing drugs.

Striking the deal with Vertex continues the rapid rise of Genomics, which was set up by four Oxford, U.K.-based academics in 2014 to tap into the surging demand for tools to make sense of sequencing data. Since then, Genomics has wrapped up a £10.3 million ($15.1 million) fundraising round, landed deals with Biogen ($BIIB) and Eisai and begun to push into the U.K. healthcare sector. Genomics has made the progress on the strength of interest in its ability to pick winners earlier in development and the reputation of the people who founded the company.

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