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article imageAstraZeneca to sequence 2 million genomes

By Tim Sandle     May 1, 2016 in Business
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is to embark on an ambitious project that will see the drugs giant sequence 2 million genomes in the quest for new candidate drug products.
The basis of the new study is to examine the potential of genetic variations to unlock new medicines. This will involve sequencing some 2 million human genomes (the complete genetic code.) This process includes examining around 500,000 DNA samples collected by AstraZeneca in clinical trials. This latter point has caused controversy before. When people sign up for a clinical trial, they no longer "own" any of their genetic material that is sampled by the company running the trial. Any drug developed by a pharmaceutical company, based on the material, becomes the property of the company.
For the project, AstraZeneca is to work with the company Craig Venter (Venter was one of the first scientists to sequence the human genome.) The project will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete. However, if just one of two major drugs end up being produced, this would be very lucrative for the companies involved.
According to The Guardian, AstraZeneca is seeking to identify the rare genetic mutations that shape almost every kind of disease. This will be by examining DNA from patients.
In related news, the driver for personalized medicines (or ‘precision medicine’) has reached the anti-cancer area. Because many types of cancer are linked with individual genetics, tailoring medication to combat different tumors with different people represents an important application of personalized medicines.
According to a report published in the journal Nature, initial data gathered from clinical trials suggesting that personalized vaccines can trigger immune responses against cancer cells. This, in turn, follows on from a report in the journal Science that detailed a scientific study where an immune response was triggered in three patients with melanoma. This was achieved by administering a vaccine tailored to their potential tumour antigens.
More about gene squencing, Big pharma, Genome, Genes
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