Illumina secures drug discovery tie-ups with Janssen, Deerfield

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/FatCamera
© GettyImages/FatCamera

Related tags Precision medicine Illumina Janssen Drug discovery Genomics

Illumina has recently announced a 10-year-long strategic collaboration with Janssen Biotech, and a five-year partnership with Deerfield Management.

The deal with Janssen sees the companies looking to accelerate the development of precision medicines by utilizing Illumina’s portfolio of resources including, data analytics tools, early discovery research, companion diagnostic development, and commercialization solutions.

The alliance, said Illumina, marks a strategic shift in the way it intends to work with pharma partners in terms of new drug target discovery, early screening, therapy selection to monitoring.

The initial focus will be on co-developing CDx programs on Illumina’s in vitro diagnostic (IVD) kit for genomic profiling based on DNA and RNA, which the company said is designed to assess multiple tumor genes and biomarkers to reveal the specific molecular profile of a patient's cancer, helping inform precision medicine decisions.

Treatment for cancer should begin as soon as possible, but the current turnaround time for sample sequencing means many patients begin on standard-of-care treatment, which may close the door to precision therapies targeted to their unique tumor biomarkers, said the diagnostics company.

Joydeep Goswami, chief strategy and corporate development officer, Illumina, said: “Precision medicine is a key component of pharma’s R&D strategy, and Illumina stands ready to support the development of precision diagnostics through our best-in-class portfolio of products across the oncology care continuum.”

Novel therapy discovery

Illumina’s collaborative effort with Deerfield will see the parties apply a genetic-led approach to the discovery and development of novel therapies for diseases with unmet medical needs.

The partners said they are looking to leverage genomic tools and genetic knowledge to select programs with a higher probability of success in order to lower R&D costs and accelerate approval of cutting-edge therapies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Illumina and Deerfield will identify therapeutic targets using Illumina's genetically-driven target discovery platform. Deerfield is to provide its expertise in translational science to deliver genetically validated drug candidates through the discovery research phase.

Alex Aravanis, chief technology officer at Illumina, said: “We have the ability to deeply understand disease biology by generating and interpreting genetic data at massive scale. With Deerfield's expertise in early-stage drug development, we expect to identify and develop new targets faster and with lower R&D costs, ultimately helping more patients access potentially life-changing therapies." 

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