US-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals has signed a multi-year collaboration with British genome analysis company Genomics to leverage human genetics and data science for the discovery of precision medicines.

As part of the three-year alliance, which could be extended to five years, the partners will use genetics and machine learning to identify drug targets.

The partnership will also focus on gaining better insights into the clinical impact that human genetic variation and patient stratification may have on diseases with a significant unmet need.

It will work towards advancing Vertex’s goal to formulate novel precision medicines for serious diseases.

Vertex chief scientific officer and Global Research executive vice-president David Altshuler said: “This partnership will pioneer new uses of genomic tools and technologies to advance Vertex’s ongoing work and investment at our Oxford Research Site and globally to bring new medicines to the patients that need them.”

Genomics’ analysis engine utilises genetics to understand human biology as well as the safety and efficacy of potential new drugs. The engine consists of more than 100 billion data points.

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“Our next generation of data and algorithms promise to be transformative, not just for target discovery but in biomarker selection and patient stratification.”

The engine can link genetic variation at more than 14 million human genome positions to changes in 7,000 molecular, cellular and physiological measurements, and disease outcomes.

Genomics developed machine learning and statistical algorithms to predict the affect of therapeutics.

Genomics founder and CEO Peter Donnelly said: “Human genetics has already been shown to have a substantial impact on the success of novel drug targets.

“Our next generation of data and algorithms promise to be transformative, not just for target discovery but in biomarker selection and patient stratification.”

The companies will combine their expertise in human genetics for the research and development associated with target discovery and validation in select diseases. Vertex and Genomics both have the option to suggest further diseases to work on.

Vertex will fund the resources committed by Genomics. It will also provide milestone and royalty payments on new targets identified during the alliance and taken through clinical development.

Furthermore, Vertex has made a £10.5m equity investment in Genomics as part of its series B funding round.