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AstraZeneca has teamed up with several partners to sequence genomes in an effort to discover and develop new drugs across all its therapeutic areas.

The partners include Human Longevity, US; the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK; and the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Finland.

The project involves sequencing two million genomes, including more than 500,000 from its own clinical trials.

This initiative is launched when AstraZeneca is reportedly contemplating a £7bn acquisition for American biopharmaceutical company Medivation, Sunday Times reported.

Human Longevity will sequence and analyse up to 500,000 DNA samples donated by patients under optional informed consent in AstraZeneca’s clinical trials, over a period of ten years.

AstraZeneca will obtain the genome sequencing data and have access to Human Longevity’s database of up to one million integrated genomic and health records to add to its analysis.

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It will use Human Longevity’s machine learning, pattern recognition and analytical techniques to interpret the genomic data.

"We look forward to working together to use Human Longevity’s proprietary computational methods and genomic data insights."

Human Longevity co-founder and CEO J Craig Venter said: "We look forward to working together to use Human Longevity’s proprietary computational methods and genomic data insights to better inform clinical trials and drug development."

AstraZeneca and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will identify new targets and biomarkers with potential use in diagnostic tests.

Through the collaboration with the Institute for Molecular Medicine and its partners in Finland and the US, AstraZeneca will study genes of interest in the Finnish people, who are known to carry a higher than normal frequency of rare variants.

AstraZeneca will also set up an in-house genomics research centre in Cambridge, which will focus on the creation and use of a database of genome sequences from samples donated by patients in the company’s clinical trials over the past 15 years, as well as the next ten years.

Image: AstraZeneca’s new R&D centre in Cambridge, UK. Photo: courtesy of AstraZeneca.