Illumina and AstraZeneca team up on AI-based research project

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DNA sequencing company Illumina has teamed up with AstraZeneca in a partnership that will seek to leverage artificial intelligence to enhance the drug discovery process.

The partnership will leverage Illumina's AI-based interpretation tools, PrimateAI and SpliceAI, in combination with AstraZeneca's analysis framework for rare variant genomic discoveries.

Illumina said that as part of the partnership, a framework combining the two companies' AI-based tools will be adopted by AstraZeneca's Centre for Genomics Research to analyse large-scale multi-omics data sets in its digital biobank.

"The complementary AI tools work to more confidently pinpoint genetic variants that contribute to human diseases, a critical step in the process of developing effective and safe therapies," said Illumina in a statement.

"Illumina and AstraZeneca are uniquely positioned to improve the efficiency of pharma pipelines by leveraging industry-leading abilities to identify genetic variants that contribute to human disease," said Joydeep Goswami, chief strategy and corporate development officer, and interim chief financial officer at Illumina. "

"By identifying genes that show evidence of human disease causality, the combined framework has the potential to prioritize drug candidates with increased likelihood of approval."

Slavé Petrovski, the head of AstraZeneca's Centre for Genomics Research, said, "Continuous innovation in the AI tools and frameworks that are applied to the growing human genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics medical research resources will enable us to answer some of the toughest questions and contribute to our aims of uncovering novel drug targets with a higher probability of success while also characterizing patient subgroups that are most likely to benefit from the treatments we discover."

"The next generation of drug discovery lies at the intersection of human genetics and AI, making this a potentially pivotal research collaboration that combines Illumina's industry-leading ability to interpret genomes at scale with AstraZeneca's extensive capabilities in large-scale human genetics research," said Alex Aravanis, chief technology officer of Illumina.