Department of Health SBRI support through Innovate UK helps to create genetic analysis tools that make drugs cheaper and more effective.
Oxford-based Genomics plc is planning to transform healthcare with sophisticated analytical tools that can help to improve the process by which drug treatments are developed.
It means that clinicians will have more effective drugs available to treat disease, and may even be able to recommend drugs based upon a patient’s specific genetic makeup.
After 4 successful pilots with major pharmaceutical companies, identifying those drugs which are likely to be most effective, Genomics has just completed its first major commercial deal.
Founded in 2014 by four Oxford University academics, Genomics plc has grown from a staff of 1 to a team of over 30. It has developed its ‘genetic variation analysis’ with support from the Department of Health through the SBRI programme, co-ordinated by Innovate UK.
Genomes are the information contained within each person’s DNA. Today, some 100,000 people have had their genomes read and that is expected to rise to a billion within 10 years.
Genomics plc has built a database that can be used to identify relationships between genetic variation and human disease.
Using genetic data has the potential to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of pharmaceutical companies, ultimately making drugs cheaper for the NHS and its users.
Stamp of approval for investors
The company won its first two SBRI contracts in 2014, with a follow-on award for a population-scale analysis project. That allowed the company to step up development of the technology and get it ready for market.
Professor Peter Donnelly, founder and CEO, has no doubt how crucial the SBRI contracts have been:
Firstly, they gave us the resources we needed to employ some really good people, and to develop some of the analytical methods we had been working on. It was also a stamp of approval to other investors. As well as the capability, it gave us credibility.
The Oxford University academics whose studies into the influence of genetic variations on human diseases are at the heart of Genomics’ innovation were Professor Peter Donnelly, Professor Gil McVean, Dr Chris Spencer and Dr Gerton Lunter.
100,000 Genomes Project
Professor McVean underlined how Genomics can be a game changer within the health sector:
We really are on the cusp of a huge revolution, and genetic information is going to transform healthcare. Genomics plc wants to be at the heart of that revolution, and we’re very excited about the next few years.
Dilip Chauhan, responsible for the SBRI programme at the Department of Health, added:
We awarded Genomics plc just over £2 million as part of an SBRI competition run for us by Genomics England Ltd, our Department of Health company set up to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project.
Genomics plc met every milestone and finished the project with a suite of tools that are proving highly attractive to industry. Genomics plc continues to work with Genomics England, extending its analytical skills to advancing the 100,000 Genomes Project.