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Regeneron Launches New Human Genetics Initiative

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) recently announced that it has launched a new human genetics initiative via a new wholly owned subsidiary, the Regeneron Genetics Center LLC (RGC). The objective of the RGC is to expand the use of human genetics for defining disease targets and improving the drug development process. The RGC will pursue both large population-based efforts as well as family-based approaches.

Central to the work of the RGC will be a collaboration with the Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania, announced in a separate press release today. A collaboration is also in place with the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, and the Center intends to develop relationships with other academic, government, and integrated medical systems.

“Regeneron has always believed in the power of genetics to help shape our understanding of disease and to guide development of novel therapeutics. However, there have been major limitations that have prevented optimal utilization of human genetics at a large-scale,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and President, Regeneron Laboratories. “We believe that we can now address these limitations, and that now is the time to increase our investment in human genetics. Over the last year we have been building a world-class facility and top-notch team to carry out large-scale sequencing, and today we are announcing that our Regeneron Genetics Center is operational. We have also started to engage in collaborations that we believe will enable the kinds of genetics discoveries that will lead to better patient care, insights into which patients might best respond to investigational treatments, and leads for new disease targets to develop novel therapeutics. The relationship with Geisinger is a cornerstone of the effort we are building, which we believe can advance the goals of human genetics research and personalized medicine.”

Andrew J. Murphy, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research, Regeneron Laboratories, added, “One of the unique aspects of the Regeneron human genetics research effort is our ability to validate putative disease-gene associations using our proprietary VelociGene┬« technology. Moreover, our VelocImmune┬« technology has already proven itself ideal for developing novel therapeutics to disease targets defined using human genetics. The RGC is an important investment in large-scale genetic research that we believe represents a powerful integrated approach that we hope will go all the way from gene discoveries to novel therapeutics.”

Over the last year, Regeneron has built a new facility and recruited key members of the RGC team, including John Overton, Ph.D., former Associate Director of the Yale Center for Genome Analysis, who will be leading the center’s sequencing effort, and Jeffrey Reid, Ph.D., formerly Assistant Professor at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, who will lead the informatics group. Aris Baras, M.D., Director, R&D Initiatives, who with other internal leaders helped launch the program, will serve as Deputy Head of the RGC. Recruiting continues for a variety of specialized positions, including heads of our analytical and translational genetics efforts.

“I am thrilled to be joining Regeneron as we initiate this new scientific research effort,” said Dr. Overton. “Regeneron’s strong commitment to the success of this project, combined with its entrepreneurial spirit and well-established expertise in basic research and mouse genetics, form a foundation we feel will lead to significant advances in our understanding of the fundamental etiology of diseases, drug development, and, ultimately, in patient care.”

“Bringing large-scale human genome sequencing together with Regeneron’s world-class mouse genetics program has potential to identify validated targets for drug discovery and make clinically-relevant genetic discoveries that, through our collaborations, can speed up the translation from science to medicine and accelerate the pace of the genomic medicine revolution,” said Dr. Reid.

Source: Regeneron