WuXi lands a role in the U.K.'s plot to sequence 100,000 genomes

WuXi CEO Ge Li

WuXi PharmaTech's ($WX) NextCODE secured a spot among the companies and research institutions taking part in Genomics England, contending for a lead role in the group's ambitious effort to sequence the genomes of 100,000 people.

NextCODE, which WuXi acquired for $65 million earlier this year, uses a huge genomic database to help physicians and investigators identify and analyze gene mutations and provide fast diagnoses. Joining Genomics England, the company is tasked with interpreting the sequences of patients with rare diseases and certain cancers, WuXi said, working alongside National Health Service scientists in the first phase of the project.

WuXi's subsidiary is among four finalists, culled from 28 applicants, that performed well in a genomic analysis bake off launched by Genomics England last year. Now the group--which also includes Congenica, Omicia and NantHealth--will help analyze the project's first 8,000 volunteers. That should take about a year, Genomics England said, and the government-led program will pick its final partners in 2016.

For WuXi, the news is an affirmation of its growing role in the world of genomics. Beyond its acquisition of NextCODE, the CRO has been working to raise its profile in genomic analysis, inking a string of partnerships designed to expand its capacity in the field.

"The results of the process announced today are an important validation of the uniquely broad power of our technology for applying genomic big data to healthcare," NextCODE founder and COO Hannes Smarason said in a statement. "Our system is proven and in use in every facet of (Genomics England's) activities--from diagnostics to population research and better drug development--and we look forward to putting the full range of our capabilities to work for them."

NextCODE came to be last year shortly after Amgen ($AMGN) paid $415 million for deCODE, an Icelandic company with an expansive database of genetic data. The spinoff launched with a 5-year exclusive lease on deCODE's platform.

- read the statement

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