AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) has announced a new initiative to to house 2 million genome sequences aimed at gathering information that will facilitate the advancement of drug discovery and development. To achieve this, the company will set up a dedicated center for the research which will feature all the genes required to make and operate an organism.
Genome sequence data from clinical samples will be put together while the center will allow access of up to the available 500,000 genomes. The clinical samples will be analyzed using various analytical techniques likes machine learning and pattern recognition. Whole genome sequencing will be carried out on everything in the database and AstraZeneca is optimistic on being able to gather at least 5 petabytes of data in total, or 5,000 terabytes.
The project will have a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars and will involve the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute as reported by AstraZeneca EVP Mene Pangalos. Some of the cash will benefit Human Longevity, Inc, the J. Craig Venter founded sequencing shop which is one the organizations that carries out such projects.
Close to 500,000 samples will be sent to Human Longevity for sampling. That means Venter’s suite of Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) HiSeq X sequencers will have to process plenty of material.
According to Pangalos, early development of innovative medicines is of the essence. He confirms that it is for this reason that the company will embrace the use of the power of genomics as the foundation of the company’s ambition. The company will be able to access the fast-growing Human Longevity’s database.
With a wide range of initiatives, AstraZeneca is laying a bet that this new one will help in the identification of rare genetic variants with the increase of the size of the genome repository.