Perlegen Sciences and Galileo Genomics will characterize disease susceptibility in the Québec Founder Population, and use the data to pen R&D collaborations with drug and diagnostics companies.
The firms hope to create a linkage disequilibrium map comprising some 40,000 SNPs, and to use it in searches for groups of genes associated with 21 common diseases. Initially, Perlegen will use its genotyping technology to evaluate and map 200,000 SNPs in DNA samples from 1,600 members of the Québec Founder Population. Galileo will provide the samples, and based on the resulting map, it will search for disease genes using its algorithms. The companies also said they plan to identify genes associated with drug response.
Ultimately, the firms hope to license these data to pharmaceutical companies, which would use them to identify drug and diagnostic targets. Galileo has collected more than 18,000 DNA samples from the Québec Founder Population and plans to increase this number to 35,000 by 2005, the company said.
Perlegen will license certain IP rights from Galileo, which will retain the rights to the DNA samples.
Galileo and Perlegen also expect to collaborate on pharmacogenomic studies to identify genes associated with drug response. Though the companies have not yet formatted any detailed tactics, the strategy would be to identify genes associated with drug response or adverse events with an eye toward collaborating in some way with biopharmas or diagnostics companies.
“We’ve just talked to each other and said, ‘Gee, it would be great to move this downstream to pharmacogenomics as well,’” John Hooper, president and CEO of Galileo, told SNPtech Pharmacogenomics Reporter this week. He said what is clear is that the companies will be looking initially for genes, rather than markers, which could be used for molecular diagnostics and later for therapeutics.
“If you’re doing a Phase II, III, IV clinical study and you want to know a little bit more about why people respond and others don’t, then the obvious way to do it is in a founder population — especially when you’ve got access to, say, 500 patients in Québec who have already been phenotyped and genotyped,” Hooper said.
He said both companies have been speaking with drug and diagnostics makers — in some cases the same ones — about pharmacogenomics, “and now that we’re together, we will raise that issue.” He added that Galileo and Perlegen are currently in discussions with one pharmaceutical company about a pharmacogenomics collaboration.
“One-third of the time and cost of doing a clinical study is recruiting the patients and the investigators,” Hooper said. “We have them all already.”