Scotland joins AstraZeneca’s genomics initiative

Anna Dominiczak

Biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is to work in collaboration with NHS Scotland, Scottish Universities and the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre to create a ground-breaking initiative in genomic medicine and informatics.

The new collaboration sees Scotland join AstraZeneca’s global genomics initiative.

The partnership will offer opportunities to researchers using patients’ genetic information to develop innovative new treatments and target the right patients to the right medicines.

AstraZeneca’s global genomics initiative will leverage information from up to two million genome sequences.

The programme involves collaboration with partners including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK, Human Longevity Inc in the USA and Finland’s Institute for Molecular Medicine.

The goal is to identify rare genetic variations that are associated with disease and how different individuals respond to treatment.

Dr Ruth March, vice president, personalised healthcare and biomarkers at AstraZeneca, said: “Using the power of genomics is at the heart of our ambition to understand the causes and drivers of disease and to develop new medicines.

“Earlier this year, we launched a 10-year integrated genomics strategy across all of our main therapy areas.

“This collaboration will become an integral part of that strategy and help us reach our goals around improved target identification, better understanding of disease and ability to match the right patient to the right medicine.”

Professor Anna Dominiczak, vice principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, said: “I am delighted that AstraZeneca has chosen Scotland to partner with in this ground-breaking genomic and informatics venture.

“We at the University of Glasgow continue to champion the importance of a precision medicine approach to health care where research and industry collaborators work closely together.

“Indeed the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre is located on the University of Glasgow Innovation floor in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, an area that has been purpose built to bring world-leading research and innovative industry together.

“I believe that through this new partnership we as a university, alongside all the other Scottish partners, will be able to further develop this important area of medical research.”

David Sibbald, chair of the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre said: “AstraZeneca has an inspiring vision to bring the benefits of genomic medicine research to healthcare through an innovative model of collaboration with partners globally.

“Scotland has made considerable investments in making the translation between research and healthcare as seamless as possible, recognising that this brings benefits to patients in the shortest time and makes Scotland an attractive location for global research initiatives.

“We’re delighted at the opportunity to work collaboratively to help fulfil their ambitious vision.”

The Scottish Government’s health secretary Shona Robison said: “I am delighted that AstraZeneca will be working in collaboration with NHSScotland and Scottish Universities in partnership with the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre to create a ground-breaking initiative in genomic medicine and informatics.

“We are confident this will create new knowledge and understanding on some of the major diseases affecting people in Scotland.

“It is a good example of Scotland’s industry-led life sciences strategy in action, and how the Innovation Centre programme has linked effectively with the NHS.

“This announcement places Scotland at the heart of a major global programme and is testament to the strength of our clinical, health informatics and genomics research base, and appetite for industry partnership.”