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IQvia Launches Genomics Technology Platform


CHICAGO (GenomeWeb) – IQvia today officially entered the world of genomic informatics with the introduction of E360 Genomics, an integrated genomic-clinical build of its established E360 data-mining platform.

Today's release is of one half of E360 Genomics, namely a "privacy-preserving" database system, according to the company. An analytics component will follow later this year.

"E360 Genomics is an additional module on top of E360 that allows our foundational E360 technology to also work with genomics data," said Kenneth Park, the company's vice president of development for real-world insights.

IQvia, the product of the 2016 merger of Quintiles and IMS Health, holds a patent on the privacy aspect of the database for techniques to strip away phenotypic and identifying data from genomics records without fully severing the link between clinical and genomics data to facilitate efficient research. This patented technology is a "foundational component" of E360 Genomics, according to Park, who led development of the genomics product.

E360 and the privacy technology came out of the legacy IMS Health business.

The platform gives researchers in the life sciences access to large-scale aggregated data to help them conduct genotypic-phenotypic experiments. Potential applications include association studies, comparative efficacy and safety trials, and burden-of-illness research, Durham, North Carolina-based IQvia said.

The forthcoming analytics platform will include a combined genomic and clinical cohort builder, pre-built tools for genome-wide and phenome-wide association studies, and data visualization tools. "This platform will build on the E360 Genomics privacy-preserving database solution technologies and will allow federated analytics across multiple countries," Park said.

Iqvia's massive data stores include 600 million longitudinal, de-identified patient records across electronic health records, medical claims, prescription data, genomics, and even social media. The company has collected upwards of 30 petabytes of data from more than 140,000 different suppliers, according to its 2018 annual report.

This data-mining and clinical decision support heavyweight also serves as a major biopharmaceutical contract research organization. IQvia booked $10.41 billion in revenues for 2018.

IQvia has been making strides in genomics since about 2016, when it became one of a group of entities assisting the Scripps Research Institute in enrolling patients for the National Institutes of Health's All of Us research initiative, formerly known as the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program.

In October 2018, IQvia announced a partnership with Genomics England to develop a platform for bringing together clinical and genomic data in support of evidence-based precision medicine and drug discovery. The company said at the time that it would offer E360 analytics technology to authorized users of Genomics England's database of de-identified genomic and phenotypic records and announced that a genomic-clinical build of E360 would come online in early 2019.

Early this year, IQvia acquired British bioinformatics company Linguamatics for an undisclosed sum. Linguamatics makes a natural language processing platform called I2E that extracts information from unstructured text, as well as a scientific search engine called iScite.

Park believes that the time is right for IQvia to make a formal move into genomics.

"As sequencing costs decrease and genomics data becomes increasingly available, new opportunities exist to better understand the pathophysiology of disease, identify new molecular targets, clarify drug mechanisms of action, or better target drugs to genetics of populations. So we see this as an important area in healthcare and also for our company," he said.

Park noted that the increasing supply and availability and the heightened demand from clients for such data caused the company to move now. "What we've been seeing is that the healthcare industry and the biopharmaceutical industry in particular have been getting increasingly excited about the benefits of genomics," he said.

With E360 Genomics, IQvia is targeting its existing markets of researchers at biopharmaceutical companies, health systems, academic institutions, and government agencies. "We're not envisioning an expansion of our client base to new markets," Park said.

Nor are there any immediate plans to integrate the Linguamatics NLP technology into the E360 platform, though Park said that the company is "open to the possibilities" of doing so in the future.

Due the secretive nature of the biopharmaceutical industry, IQvia has not disclosed names of any private organizations using E360 Genomics. Aside from Genomics England, the client base for the new genomics platform includes "primarily biopharmaceutical companies," according to Park.