AnVil, a data analysis firm based in Burlington, Mass., last week announced an expanded strategic alliance with Genomics Collaborative (GCI) in which the two companies will co-market analysis of clinical data to pharmaceutical and biotech firms.
The agreement builds on a pilot project the companies began this summer to develop drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. In the new alliance, AnVil will analyze data from GCI’s Global Repository of DNA, serum, and tissue samples from over 115,000 people. AnVil will mine this data to gather knowledge about treatment models for cardiovascular disease. Licensing fees from the information will be split between AnVil and GCI.
The deal is AnVil’s third step along a path it has defined for itself in the direction of the clinical data and healthcare markets, said Richard Gill, CEO of AnVil.
Gill joined the company a year ago with the mission of building a scalable revenue-sharing business model. “We did formal segmentation analysis at the time and decided to step into the healthcare market as well as the pharma and biotech market and see if we could develop a business model that brought them together,” he said.
In addition to the clinical data work with GCI, AnVil signed a collaboration with healthcare service firm HealthSouth in July to analyze the company’s patient data and gauge the effectiveness of several cardiac medications on stroke populations. A couple of months ago, AnVil signed a similar agreement with an undisclosed “Fortune 100 HMO insurance company,” Gill said.
The HMO deal gives AnVil access to the company’s databases in order to extract information on anti-infectives that AnVil is banking will be commercially valuable to pharma.
AnVil sees itself as a middleman between two large, interdependent business sectors that have a bit of a communication gap. “We think we can be the conduit to bring the healthcare and the pharmas together in terms of maximizing the treatment benefit to the patient and maximizing profitability at the same time,” Gill said.
With access to patient data, the company is able to develop longitudinal studies for pharmaceutical or biotech clients, combining medical information from HealthSouth or the HMO partner with genomic, chemical, or physiology-based information from a pharmaceutical partner.
AnVil integrates the information from its various partners using an in-house ontology of around 3,500 different therapeutic indications.
Gill described the approach as “a drug development Dewey decimal system — rather than just storing the data and information, you’re able to easily access information that may relate to a particular area where a pharma is looking for information to help them with the drug development process.”
While AnVil isn’t going as far as discovering targets for its partners yet, Gill doesn’t rule out the possibility. For now, however, AnVil is licensing “information that allows them to make decisions about early discovery, the clinical trials process, or about post-marketing.”
All licensing fees from the drug discovery side are split 50/50 with the appropriate data provider from the healthcare side, Gill said.
Gill said the type of information AnVil provides can be brought to bear at several points along the drug discovery and development pipeline, including R&D, clinical trials, and marketing.
“Very often,” he said, “you’ll find that you’re working with all three at once, so you’ll have a program that’s in clinical development but the company’s already deciding on how they’re going to market it, what kind of pricing, what kind of information they need.”
Not satisfied by the adoption rate of pharmacogenomics approaches to date, Gill said the tiny company decided to play a proactive role in nudging the process along.
“The drive for us is to push the pharmas and the biotechs through the personal medicine paradigm,” he said.