Wave Life Sciences and Deep Genomics Join Up to Splice

Ryan Black

The pair want to combine their chemistry and machine learning platforms to find targets for neuromuscular disease treatments.

Two precision medicine companies announced a collaboration today to explore potential therapies for neuromuscular disorders like Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.

Boston-based Wave Life Sciences focuses on developing genetic treatments for complex disorders, while Toronto’s Deep Genomics applies machine learning to search for targets for gene therapies. They’ll use both of their platforms to analyze cause-and-effect relationships specific to these conditions, and they hope that their work will uncover splicing targets for genetic treatments.

The pair issued a statement about their new arrangement, in which Deep Genomics CEO Brendan Frey, PhD, called the 2 “a good match.”

“Wave’s efforts complement our discovery platform, which combines automation, high volume data acquisition and genome biology in a machine learning system. By working together, we aim to extend what is currently known about splicing targets in genetic neuromuscular disorders,” he said.

Wave Life CEO Paul Bolno, MD, MBA, returned the praise. He called his company’s new partner “a world leader in developing optimized oligonucleotides and in adopting science-based disruptive technologies.”

Beyond just exploring potential targets and treatments for a certain subset of disorders, however, Bolno thinks the implications can be far greater. He said that the collaboration could “enable a more profound understanding of splicing biology and illuminate new approaches to increase the size of patient populations with genetic neuromuscular disorders that may be eligible for treatment.”

Wave Life Sciences has a number of genetic treatments in its pipeline, including a pair of splicing drugs for muscular dystrophy that rely on exon skipping. One is already in phase 1, while the other is expected to begin in early 2019. Wave also has collaborative therapies in development for Huntington’s disease with pharmaceutical giant Takeda, and the 6-year-old company has already raised over $100 million. The company says that the new arrangement with Deep Genomics will help to expand its pipeline further.

Deep Genomics, for its part, is also quite young: It was founded in 2014. In September 2017, it got its first big investment from a $13 million Series A round led by Khosla Ventures.

“Wave’s efforts complement our discovery platform, which combines automation, high volume data acquisition and genome biology in a machine learning system. By working together, we aim to extend what is currently known about splicing targets in genetic neuromuscular disorders,” Frey said in the statement.

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