Production & Manufacturing

Regeneron forms consortium to accelerate sequencing of UK Biobank data

Published 10 January 2018

A new partnership between Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and five other drug manufacturers intends to accelerate the generation of genetic exome sequence data from the 500,000 participants of the UK Biobank.

UK Biobank aims to enhance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a range of severe illnesses including heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia.

Collaborators include AbbVie, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Biogen and Pfizer. Each company will contribute $10m to allow the acceleration of sequencing timelines, and additional companies are considering to join the consortium.

Regeneron first announced the initiative as part of a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. Under that program, the sequencing of all 500,000 samples in the UK Biobank was scheduled for completion by 2022.

As per the new timeline, the companies plans to complete the exome sequencing by the end of 2019. Regeneron will continue to undertake the sequencing at its genetics center facility.

By the end of next year, Regeneron intends to sequence the exomes of all 500,000 people within the UK Biobank resource, all with related health records, creating a resource linking human genetic variations to human biology and disease.

The exome sequencing data and findings will be openly available to other researchers.

Regeneron president and chief scientific officer George Yancopoulos said: "With mounting national and global health concerns due to widespread increases in obesity-related diseases like diabetes, and age-related diseases such as dementia, together with the ongoing threats of cardiovascular disease, cancer and infectious agents, it is a great statement that so many leading Life Sciences companies are willing to put aside their individual differences and come together to bring this unprecedented, pre-competitive 'big data' resource to the world.

“We all hope and believe this will greatly accelerate our collective efforts to make a profound impact on human health.”

UK Biobank is funded primarily by the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

Image: Regeneron announces major collaboration to exome sequence UK Biobank genetic data more quickly. Photo: courtesy of Biobank 2018.