WuXi NextCODE, the emerging global standard platform for genomic data, announced a partnership with Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, a US biopharmaceutical company aimed at developing and commercializing therapies for the treatment of rare genetic disorders of obesity, under which Rhythm is applying WuXi NextCODE’s proprietary deep learning capabilities to identify key genetic markers for rare metabolic syndromes. The goal is to use that information to optimize the development of Rhythm’s investigational compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The first phase of the partnership involved mining WuXi NextCODE’s knowledgebase of all major reference datasets to identify all rare sequence variants in the POMC, PCSK1, and LEPR genes in the MC4R pathway. This is a key biological pathway in humans that regulates weight by increasing energy expenditure and reducing appetite. WuXi NextCODE’s advanced artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory then applied its proprietary DeepCODE algorithm to score the variants for their predictive impact on obesity. Testing people living with obesity for the highest impact variants in these genes may enable the identification of those who may be candidates for treatment with therapies developed to target the MC4R pathway, as well as to a broader understanding of the mechanisms through which this pathway contributes to obesity.
“We are committed to using the most cutting-edge technologies to develop treatment options for patients affected by rare genetic disorders of obesity,” said Lex Van der Ploeg, chief scientific officer of Rhythm. “Data provided by advanced AI can play an important role in our ability to identify patients who might be most appropriate for treatment with our compounds.”
“This is a pathbreaking demonstration of how AI can advance drug development and we are thrilled to be partnering with Rhythm to put our capabilities to work to meet such an important unmet medical need,” said Hannes Smarason, chief executive officer of WuXi NextCODE. “We are also very excited to take the next steps in this partnership, and are applying the breadth of our capabilities, from large-scale cohort validation to functional assays, to help advance Rhythm’s clinical development programs. This is important work in the context of rare disease more broadly and we are proud to be a part of it.”