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Jumping into Genomics for Drug Discovery

Drug companies are building up genomic databases to aid in the quest for new therapeutics, Reuters reports.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals teamed up with the Geisinger Health System last year to sequence 250,000 people, and with data from 35,000 research participants so far, they tell Reuters they've confirmed the associations between some 250 genes and common conditions like high cholesterol or triglyceride levels and identified dozens of new genes targets, including one for obesity.

With similar database-development goals in mind, Amgen bought Decode Genetics along with its genomic database of 2,636 Icelanders in 2012; Roche's Genentech is teaming with Human Longevity on a sequencing project; Genentech and Pfizer have each entered into deals with 23andMe, receiving access to portions of its customer database; and Biogen and Columbia Univerisity are working togeher to create a sequencing center at Columbia, Reuters adds.

"All of the companies are feeling like, 'Oh my gosh. We have to do something substantial in genomics — yesterday,'" David Goldstein, director of Columbia's Institute for Genomic Medicine, says.