Illumina and Deerfield Team Up to Utilize AI, Genomics in Drug Development

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Illumina and Deerfield Management have entered into a five-year R&D partnership. The companies plan to apply a genetic-led approach to the discovery and development of novel therapies for diseases that present unmet medical needs.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will collaborate to identify therapeutic targets utilizing Illumina’s genetically driven AI discovery platform and other genomic tools and analytics while Deerfield will provide expertise in translation science to guide potential candidates through the pipeline. Although the companies have not disclosed what diseases they intend to pursue therapeutics for, the pair have stated that their hope is to identify and develop new targets faster with low research and development costs.

"Currently, drug discovery is difficult, expensive and slow, with 90% of therapies failing in development due to gaps in the biological understanding of the complex nature of many diseases," Joydeep Goswami, chief strategy and corporate development officer at Illumina said in a press release. "Deerfield's Vice President of Genetics and Genomics, Matt Nelson, showed in his foundational work that genetic-based targets can improve success rates, speed to market, and cost. Combined with Illumina's expertise in applying artificial intelligence approaches to target discovery, we intend to drive a step-change in the pace and efficiency of therapeutic development."

Deerfield Management is just one of many companies that have hopped on board with Illumina’s technology this year. In January alone, Illumina announced partnerships or collaborations with Synapse, SomaLogic, Agenida Partners, Boehringer Ingelheim and Nashville Biosciences for varying projects. The projects included large panel biomarker testing for oncology practices, proteomics assays, genomic testing in breast cancer, companion diagnostics for oncology and establishing a clinico-genomic resource for identifying disease associations and targets for intervention.

Beyond partnering with other biotech companies, Illumina has also been at the helm for assisting clinical centers globally facing unprecedented diseases. In February, the company announced that it would be partnering with centers across France to advance a precision medicine approach for patients with late-stage cancer. Illumina and the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital in France plan to assess the clinical value of comprehensive genomic profiling in cancer therapy options.

Illumina also partnered with the National Cancer Center of Japan to address nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a leading cause of death in Asia. Illumina will provide its high-throughput DNA sequencing to analyze the blood-based genomic profile and clinical information of patients in an effort to develop novel treatments based on genetic abnormalities of cancers that are common in Asia. Additionally, the company announced in April that it would support Germany’s Hanover Medical School to implement the use of whole-genome sequencing in critically ill children suspected of having a rare or genetic disease to potentially provide earlier diagnosis and treatment for patients.

Companies are quick to partner with Illumina, and for good reason. At the 40th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January, the company boasted that its products have received 70 approvals from 55 regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The genetic company is proliferative in almost all fields of biopharma and even donates its genomic equipment to conversation efforts.

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