Amgen's deCODE and Intermountain Healthcare to Run 500,000 Patient DNA Study

clinical study

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare and Reykjavik, Iceland-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of Amgen, are teaming up to collect and analyze 500,000 DNA samples. The initiative is called the HerediGene: Population Study.

Amgen hopes the data will provide insights into specific diseases that will help develop new drugs. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs 40th Annual Global Healthcare Conference on Monday, Amgen’s executive vice president of R&D David Reese said, “This will be the largest single focused project of its kind in the United States.”

He also indicated that these types of collaborations are part of the company’s strategy to shorten development timelines.

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Reese denoted that the collaboration focuses on two “core existential problems” that the biopharma industry needs to solve. The first is improving success rates.

"Currently they still run around 8%, and it’s been that way for some time. That varies by therapeutic areas, but we must do better," Reese said. 

The second is decreasing cycle times for drug development.

“[It still takes] 12 to 14 years on average from idea in the laboratory to achieving marketing authorizations for a drug," Reese said. “We strongly believe that genetics will be foundational for drug development going forward, particularly outside of oncology. We are not talking tumor genomics here, but everything else.”

Reese also spoke of the company’s KRAS program, noting AMG 510, which is currently in a Phase I trial. The “KRAS program is an example of where we applied what we’ve learned … in an integrated fashion across the spectrum of drug development. I think we’ve probably taken an average three years off our development timelines right now and I think we can do better than that going forward.”

The HerediGene initiative is voluntary and free to participants from Intermountain’s patient population, primarily in Utah and Idaho.

“While the 500,000 samples will be collected primarily from patients in Utah, the research is expected to have a global impact as medications, treatments, and healthcare innovations that can benefit patients universally are developed from the findings,” stated Lincoln Nadauld, Intermountain’s chief of precision health. “The collaboration is noteworthy and unique in its size, scope, and immediate application to patient care.”

Patients that participate in the study will agree to the testing and also have the option to receive their genetics data report, if a clinically significant gene mutation is observed. For the actual study, data will be de-identified so they will remain anonymous.

Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 160 clinics, a Medical Group with approximately 2,300 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health insurance company named SelectHealth, and other health services.

“This unique collaboration is expected to uncover new insights into some of society’s most debilitating diseases,” stated Kari Stefansson, founder and chief executive officer of deCODE Genetics. “Our partnership with Intermountain Healthcare is important as we continue to identify and validates human disease targets. These potential discoveries will allow deCODE and Amgen to rapidly develop new medicines that reach the right disease targets.”

The study is available to any person over the age of 18 within Intermountain Healthcare’s service area. They will provide two tubes of blood, sign a consent form, and then the sample will be analyzed for disease risk. There is no cost to the study participants.

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