January 22, 2019 –
WuXi NextCODE CEO covers the acquisition of Genomics Medicine Ireland, the opening of a new laboratory in Woburn, MA, and the future of precision medicine.
The acquisition of Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI) plus a $200 million Series C financing in November made 2018 a breakout year for WuXi NextCODE. Now, with the pending opening of our new Massachusetts-based CLIA/CAP certified laboratory facility, we are well established as a global leader in genomic data and insights. Last week Rob Brainin, CEO, shared how our vision will unfold in a presentation at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
Proponents have been heralding the arrival of precision medicine for years, and tremendous strides have been taken in at least two fields – oncology and rare disease diagnosis. But critical barriers still exist. “Life scientists and researchers don’t have the right data,” Brainin said. It is also challenging to manage big genomic data, which comprises some of the largest data sets known. Further, “Most data analysis tools aren’t bespoke to biology,” Brainin told the JPM audience.
WuXi NextCODE’s end-to-end platform, which is scalable and designed specifically for genomic data, meets all these challenges. We offer a full range of individual services: robust cohort sourcing, sequencing, secondary and tertiary sequence data analysis, a unique architecture for data integration and storage, and advanced analytics, including artificial intelligence (AI). Clients can contract for specific services or buy the whole package, with our expert teams managing each project.
The “build it or buy it” question is a major one for many biopharmaceutical companies seeking to accelerate their drug discovery and development. “We have experience working with dozens of partners to build these tools, in population studies, clinical research, cloud services, and drug discovery and development,” Brainin said. WuXi NextCODE has worked with 15 of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies. We have also collaborated with some of the world’s preeminent hospitals. In China, for example, at Fudan Children’s Hospital we helped pioneer the use of sequencing for rare diseases.
The GMI acquisition is a major step forward on our path to support world-class drug discovery and development. GMI plans to recruit 400,000 Irish patients (some 10% of the population) for a unique database that will include genomic and clinical phenotype data. Most importantly, that clinical data will come from medical specialists, who typically give more precise diagnoses. That fuels our new capability in cohort sourcing. We can provide cohorts for drug and biomarker discovery and development across dozens of diseases.
WuXi NextCODE’s main clients are biopharmaceutical companies, life sciences researchers, and healthcare facilities, including major hospitals. With offices in Shanghai, Dublin, Reykjavik, and Cambridge, MA, the company is a leader in the generation, storage, integration, and analysis of genomic data. “We help our clients turn data into insights,” said Brainin.
With the acquisition of GMI, WuXi NextCODE now has sequencing facilities in Asia, the European Union, and the United States. “We’ve been working with GMI for several years already,” Brainin explained. A five-year collaboration between AbbVie, GMI, and WuXi NextCODE is already in place. That study started in 2017 and will involve sequencing 45,000 whole genomes to look at variations in cancers and other indications.
“We’re unlocking the value of biological pathways,” Brainin told the JPM audience. That includes identifying driver genes, using variant data to uncover patient sub-types, diagnosing patients based on genomic markers, and discovering indicators of progression or survival. These are all key steps in moving toward broader use of precision medicine.