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Sanofi sets sights on translational medicine
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Looking to implement patient-centered approaches across all stages of translational and clinical research in several major therapeutic areas—an effort it calls the Translational Medicine for Patients (TM4P) program—global pharma leader Sanofi has partnered with NextBio to incorporate patient 'omics and clinical data into the program.
Sanofi, which has a longstanding partnership with NextBio on its preclinical research programs, announced the new deal on April 30. The partnership centers on NextBio Clinical, a state-of-the-art scientific platform that aggregates and interprets large quantities of molecular and other life-science data for research and clinical applications. NextBio's software is used by researchers and clinicians in more than 50 top commercial and academic institutions, including the U.S. National Institute of Health, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, the Scripps Research Institute, Pfizer Inc., Novartis, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, to name just a few.
For Sanofi, though, NextBio Clinical will enable the aggregation, standardization and analysis of patient clinical data, as well as next-generation sequencing (NGS) and other molecular data, across public data sources, Sanofi clinical trials and Sanofi hospital partners.
Saeid Akhtari, president and CEO of NextBio, describes the partnership as having four components. First, it gives Sanofi access to all available and relevant clinical trial content that NextBio curates, standardizes, normalizes and puts in a semantic framework so it can be easily mined.
"Sanofi works with many hospitals and research centers around the world, and this platform will allow them to bring this data into the mix and integrate it with NextBio's public data. Sanofi can make this data public if they choose to do so," Akhtari says.
Secondly, NextBio will provide analytic capabilities that will allow Sanofi to ask questions about biomarkers and patient stratification. The third component involves a user interface that Akhtari explains this way: "If you are a clinician running a Phase III clinical trial, you would want to query this data and present it in real-time. When you have a query, you don't want to wait two months to get your results back. In today's world, everyone is looking for instant gratification. If it takes longer than three seconds, people get fidgety."
And finally, NextBio will provide Sanofi with a private cloud, "so they don't have to buy any hardware to house the data," says Akhtari.
"When you look at a patient's record in a Phase II clinical trial, there is a lot more data generated than ever before—clinical lab data, image data and clinical attributes for patients, as well as thousands of data on glucose levels, blood pressure, MRI tests, etc. We also see 'omics data becoming available—metabolome, epigenome, proteome, etc.—we're literally talking about billions of data points. If you want to take a single patient and compare them to all other patients, you have to invest in a huge computing infrastructure," says Akhtari.
All of these components will amplify Sanofi's translational research efforts, he says.
"NextBio deals with upstream research," he says. "The whole notion is to take what you learn from your research and apply it to clinical development. Researchers need to look for a subpopulation that will benefit most from a drug, with the least side effects. We see many pharmas introducing this, mainly because of the efficiencies that it enables. This is how I believe medicine should work."