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Introducing AGD

AGD: The Alliance for Genomic Discovery ™

What is the Alliance for Genomic Discovery (AGD)? NashBio and Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, are excited to form the Alliance for Genomic Discovery (AGD), in collaboration with eight leading pharmaceutical companies. Launched in 2022 by Illumina and NashBio, AGD aims to accelerate the development of novel therapeutics through the use of large-scale genomics and the creation of a preeminent real-world genomic resource.

The eight pharmaceutical members , including AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) and Novo Nordisk (Novo) are co-funding the whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 250,000 samples and have access to the resulting data for use in drug discovery and therapeutic development.

“Together with NashBio and the now eight member organizations in the Alliance for Genomic Discovery, we will generate and analyze more genomic, multimodal phenotypic, and multiomic data in a turnkey manner,” said Joydeep Goswami, chief financial officer and chief strategy andcorporate development officer of Illumina. “This rich dataset will enable the discovery of highly actionable therapeutic targets and improve the speed, probability of success, and efficiency of the discovery and development process.”

In 2023, AGD completed whole-genome sequencing of approximately 86,000 of the planned 250,000 DNA samples from VUMC’s BioVU® biobank, including the initial diverse ancestry cohort of 35,000 individuals primarily of African ancestry. The AGD members are applying innovative, large-scale analysis tools to the WGS data to help identify disease associations and drug targets for intervention. Now through early 2025, deCODE/Amgen will sequence the remaining samples for the Alliance. The lack of diversity in genomic data has created a gap in the scientific understanding of the underlying genetic causes of many diseases and has inhibited equitable access to precision health therapies. Through its collaborative work, AGD seeks to advance precision medicine for all.

“We are thrilled to welcome the various latest members to AGD and to work with all of these organizations to advance the study of the genome and improve human health,” said Leeland Ekstrom, PhD, chief executive officer of NashBio. “With this initial phase of the Alliance now well underway, we are excited to explore possible future additions of other multiomic data that will expand this incredible resource.”

AGD pharma and biopharma member companies will analyze WGS data generated with Illumina next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms from Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s BioVU®, an extensive, high-quality biobank of more than 250,000 de-identified human DNA samples and associated longitudinal, structured clinical data. Over time, the companies will leverage these data, and other multimodal data from NashBio and comprehensive WGS annotation and interpretation data generated by Illumina, to identify disease associations and drug targets for interventions.

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