The foundation of all contemporary genomics research was born from analyzing Big Data. Dr. Robert Green, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, director of Genomes To People (G2P) research program at BWH, and associate member of the Broad Institute, puts the combination of Big Data and genomics simply: “Genomics is Big Data, Big Data are genomics and this is, I think, clearly one of the cutting edges of the ways in which Big Data are going to become integrated into the practice of medicine.” However, he maintains that there is much room for improvement. He cited what he calls “tractable” issues as computational powers, storage, and simply getting enough people sequenced so that there are a huge reservoir of data to draw on.
However, he believes some issues are more systemic. He says, “A more difficult obstacle is that genomic information is incredibly more valuable if you can match it phenotype information. What is in the EHR, or more accurately, what every human being is experiencing in terms of health. That is really much harder than it sounds. What’s in the EHR is not always accurate; it’s often incomplete, and it’s often underreported.”
On the state of investing in Big Data and genomics, John Baresky of Boston Software Systems, which focuses on data solutions in healthcare, highlights the importance of skills on both the technology side and the clinician side because of the vast data with which technicians and analysts contend. He says “if you are really trying to reach that endpoint, it takes not just money, but it takes brainpower; it takes good analytical resources.”
Here are the top 4 Big Data and genomics companies in the US:
Helix is a San Carlos, CA based startup that has raised a $200M Series B, announced on March 1, 2018. Customers can send in saliva samples for DNA sequencing to map ancestry, health, fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, genealogy, and inherited traits. The company has just launched its “Healthy Nevada Project” with Renown Health, the largest healthcare provider in Nevada. The companies are creating a health determinants platform to identify and model public health risks, such as various diseases and environmental factors.
“At Helix, our mission is to empower every person to improve their life through DNA,” says James Lu, Senior Vice President and co-founder of Helix. “It’s our hope that though the diverse range of partner products in the Helix store, every person can unlock their genetic data and make more informed choices and decisions about their health, fitness, nutrition, and more.”
WuXi Next Code is a Cambridge-based company, with offices in Shanghai and Reykjavik, that raised a $165M Series B announced on September 5, 2017. The company, with the most sequenced genomes than any other, aims to create a world standard platform for genomic data.Their online platform allows for a massive network capabilities in visualizing full sequences as well as a search engine and a unique database that holds the genomes. The company incorporates study design, sequencing, secondary analysis, storage, interpretation and scalable analytics.
“Genome sequencing is rapidly becoming the biggest source of data on the planet, and at WuXi NextCODE we are building the global standard platform for turning that data into better medicine, healthcare and wellness for people around the world,” says Rob Brainin, CEO of Wuxi NextCODE. “It’s a vision as big as the challenge. With world-leading technology and operations in the US, China and Europe – serving national genome projects, pharmaceutical companies, pediatric hospitals and consumers globally – we feel we are in the unique and privileged position to be able realize it.”
3. Edico Genome
Edico Genome is a La Jolla, CA based startup that has raised a $22M Series B announced on May 9, 2017. Edico Genome is a secondary analysis solution provider for next-generation sequencing, which allows millions or billions of DNA strands to be sequenced in parallel, yielding substantially more throughput and minimizing the need for the Sanger sequencing of genomes. Their technology is called the DRAGEN™ Bio-IT Platform which enhances accuracy, speed, scalability, and costs to drive better results through what they coin DRAGEN pipelines through a cloud platform.
LAM Therapeutics is a Connecticut based company that has raised a $58M Series C announced on March 20, 2017. The company was created to develop new therapies to treat Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) as well as other genetic disorders, including cancer. LAM Therapeutics uses AI and Next Generation Sequencing to conduct research on genome editing, chemical genomics, and combinational drug sequencing to create better therapies and diagnostics. Their AI platform matches patients who are the best matches for new medicinal therapies based off their genes. The company has succeeded in creating the drugs LAM-001 for lymphangioleiomyomatosis, LAM-002 for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and LAM-003 for acute myeloid leukemia.
Header Image: Screenshot from WuXi Next Code Video, “DNA: The Common Language for #EveryRare Disease”
Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.
Send this to a friend