Q: What is genomics?
A: Genomics is the study of the structure and function of the genome, or the genes of an organism. The genome is a unique blueprint which determines cellular structure and function – disruptions or errors in the genome can result in the development of disease. Studying the genome helps researchers better understand health and disease conditions.
Large genomic data cohorts provide a comprehensive picture of the disease and its sub-types, including genes and pathways disrupted or associated with disease. Working from this data, scientists are better able to identify patient segments most likely to benefit from specific treatments.
Individual genomes can provide important information to help tailor potential treatments or to help avoid adverse effects, part of a concept known as precision medicine. Researchers across Bristol Myers Squibb are exploring new frontiers and reimagining the future of precision medicine, and the genomics team is no different. Scientific advancements are enabling the alteration or correction of the genome through genomic technologies such as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) and enabling tailored treatment options such as CAR T (chimeric antigen receptor T cell) therapies.
Q: What can you tell us about the genomics team at Bristol Myers Squibb?
A: I feel very lucky to work alongside an incredibly talented team who inspire me each day. At Bristol Myers Squibb, genomics is a critical part of our translational research efforts, and we work with teams spanning the earliest stages of discovery to development, as well as computational research and regulatory. We are responsible for developing genomics-based biomarker strategies and executing comprehensive and rigorous biomarker analyses on our clinical trial cohorts. The genomic datasets we develop also help to establish drug mechanisms of action and identify optimal dosing options.
The scientists on the genomics team have broad therapeutic area expertise and are focused on answering key scientific questions to make an impact for patients. Our team has made significant strides in generating cutting-edge genomics methodologies and adapting them for clinical applications. Some of these successes include utilizing single cell sequencing from clinically applicable core biopsies – a first for the field. Other successes include genomic spatial profiling and ctDNA (circulating tumor DNA) fluid biopsies for early disease detection and monitoring.