Illumina and AstraZeneca look to drug target discovery with ‘pivotal research collaboration’

October 11, 2022 - 2 minutes
Photo/Shutterstock

Illumina Inc. has announced a strategic research collaboration with AstraZeneca to accelerate drug target discovery by combining their work in artificial intelligence (AI) based genome interpretation and genomic analysis techniques along with industry expertise. 

The collaboration will evaluate whether a combined framework of these technologies can increase the yield and confidence of target discovery to find promising drugs based on human omics insights.

“Illumina and AstraZeneca are uniquely positioned to improve the efficiency of pharma pipelines by leveraging industry-leading abilities to identify genetic variants that contribute to human disease,” said Joydeep Goswami, chief strategy and corporate development officer, interim chief financial officer at Illumina. 

“By identifying genes that show evidence of human disease causality, the combined framework has the potential to prioritize drug candidates with increased likelihood of approval.”

AI tools

The collaboration leverages Illumina’s AI-based interpretation tools, PrimateAI and SpliceAI, in combination with AstraZeneca’s analysis framework for rare variant genomic discoveries. It also involves AstraZeneca’s own AI tools, including JARVIS and in silico predictors like missense tolerance ratio.

As part of the research collaboration, a framework combining the two companies’ AI-based tools will be adopted by AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research to analyze large-scale multi-omics data sets in its digital biobank. The complementary AI tools work to more confidently pinpoint genetic variants that contribute to human diseases, a critical step in the process of developing effective and safe therapies. 

Content continues below

Related Content

Slavé Petrovski, head of AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research, Discovery Sciences, R&D, said: “Continuous innovation in the AI tools and frameworks that are applied to the growing human genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics medical research resources will enable us to answer some of the toughest questions and contribute to our aims of uncovering novel drug targets with a higher probability of success while also characterizing patient subgroups that are most likely to benefit from the treatments we discover.”

Pivotal research collaboration

“The next generation of drug discovery lies at the intersection of human genetics and AI, making this a potentially pivotal research collaboration that combines Illumina’s industry-leading ability to interpret genomes at scale with AstraZeneca’s extensive capabilities in large-scale human genetics research,” said Alex Aravanis, chief technology officer of Illumina.

The research collaboration focuses on the ability of a combined framework to deliver differential performance across a broad range of human diseases. Upon its outcome, the two companies will assess opportunities for a long-term partnership.

You might also be interested in the following: