Traditionally, drug discovery has largely been based on observational effects of chemicals on biological functions. The development of a drug being the refinement to a compound with most efficacy for least side effects. These compounds, or candidate drugs, may have arisen from biochemical understanding of processes, investigation of known phenomena such as toxicology, traditional treatments or other associations or even from serendipitous observations such as penicillin.

Traditional drug discovery involves quite a bit of trial and error. Scientists are generating new knowledge on diseases and effects of medication with genomics to reduce the trial and error. 

The potential for genomics to radically change this into a targeted high yield process is well known. The potential has been discussed in the medical research literature for over 20 years. 

Over these years, incredible successes have been seen particularly in cancer with multiple targeted agents either replacing or being used alongside chemotherapy. These drugs have been particularly successful in some cancers including leukemia, lung, colorectal and others. Similarly, other disorders including hypercholesterolemia, cystic fibrosis and others are increasingly amenable to these genetically derived targeted treatments. 

Just like drug discovery, the drug development process is also a lot about trial and error rather than scientific prediction. Scientists are reversing the high probability of failure in drug development with the new knowledge they are discovering due to genomics.

Drug trials are very expensive and have a high failure rate. One major pharma, for example, has reported closure of 57% of phase 2a trials and 88% of phase 3b trials as a result of lack of efficacy. The latter, a consequence of human disease not following experimental models or mimicking animal findings. 

Efficiency improves significantly if genetic findings are applied. A study concluded that drugs were six to seven times more likely to be approved if the drug’s target had Mendelian genetic support . Further, the application of genetics to well understood common disorders was estimated to lead to twice as many progressing from Phase I to approval in repeat studies.

The study of disease within discrete populations that are relatively isolated, or that have a high rate of consanguinity offers a shortcut to the identification of these actionable genes, as has been seen in various populations across the world.

Further, in 2019 it was estimated that with the traditional pharma pre-clinical approach only one in every 200 protein-disease pairings were causal. Clearly this made a very significant contribution to the reported drug development failure rate of 96%. In contrast, substituting genomic data for preclinical studies as the major information source for drug target identification was estimated to reverse the probability of late-stage failure with the potential to produce radical improvement in drug development success rates.

In conclusion then, scientists are generating new knowledge with genomics to radically transform both the drug discovery as well as development processes.

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Dr. Jonathan Picker Chief Executive Office

Dr. Jonathan Picker is the Chief Executive Officer of Anuva. He is an affiliate faculty member and clinical geneticist at Boston's Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

With 25 years of experience in Pediatrics and Genetics, Dr. Picker specializes in the interface of clinical care and applied genetic and genomic research. Dr. Picker's research spans diagnostic tools in genetics to descriptive analysis of rare disorders to molecular neuroscience. He was the co-founder and Director of the first Pediatric Pharmacogenomic clinic in the USA; as well as Director of the Harvard Medical School Advanced Human Genetics Training Program Course.

Dr. Picker is the recipient of various prestigious awards, including the first Sidney R. Baer Jr. Prize for Mental health Research. He has authored numerous research papers involving informative cases, molecular biology, behavioral neuroscience, applied clinical genetic guidelines as well as invited reviews and chapters.

Dr. Picker holds a bachelor's degree of Medical Biology in Genetics, and an MBChB in Medicine from Aberdeen University, UK. He also holds an MS in Genetics and Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Biology from Newcastle University, UK.

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Kushagra SharmaPresident & Board Member

Kushagra Sharma is the President and a Board Member at Anuva. A seasoned business leader with a career spanning entrepreneurship as well as general management, Kushagra has deep expertise in developing and executing business plans in start-ups as well as large corporations. He is responsible for the revenue growth of the business, strategic planning, and partnerships at Anuva.

Before joining Anuva, he was responsible for the strategy and project execution in launching 4G digital services for Reliance Jio in India. Kushagra has previously served in leadership roles in companies like British Telecom, MTS Sistema Shyam, Grail Research and Evalueserve.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and an MBA from INSEAD, Fontainebleau.

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Dr. Asmi ShahVice President of Data and Technology

Dr. Asmi Shah is the Vice President of Data and Technology at Anuva. She joined Anuva in its very initial years and has contributed significantly in shaping its products end to end along with other R&D platforms. She brings her data science expertise in dealing with big data, managing and standardizing multidisciplinary large scale biological datasets in the field of drug discovery through genomics and phenomics.

Before joining Anuva, she contributed to the research of drug discovery done with the use of high content/throughput screening on various zebrafish assays at University of Heidelberg in Germany and at Harvard Medical School, USA. She has also taken up various technical roles in product management and software R&D with different corporate industries such as Intel, Rambus and Inform Technologies in the USA and with data analytics startups in India.

Dr Shah holds a bachelor’s degree from Saurashtra University, India, an MS from San Jose State University, USA and has pursued her PhD from University of Heidelberg, Germany under a Marie Curie fellowship.

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Dr. Nick England Vice President of Bioinformatics

Dr Nick England is the Vice President of Bioinformatics at Anuva. He brings with him over 10 years of commercial bioinformatics experience. He is responsible for the development of bespoke bioinformatics software and pipelines to maximize biological insight from our data.

Before joining Anuva, he worked at Kymab where he developed the bioinformatics used in IntelliSelect for processing and visualizing antibodies from humanized mice, as well as implementing continuous integration and shifting computation to the cloud. This successful informatics platform is now also used by other companies such as LifeArc and Petmedix. He has previously worked on cheminformatics projects with Unilever and Novartis.

Dr England holds an MSci degree in Natural Sciences as well as a PhD in cheminformatics from the University of Cambridge.