Getting Genomics Data
DNAnexus completes $58 million financing round from strategic investors
Major companies have invested in a $58 million financing round for DNAnexus, a California-based genomics platform firm that offers a worldwide network for sharing and management of genomic data and tools to expedite genomics research. Directed by the healthcare-focused investment firm Foresite Capital, the funding included strategic investment from Microsoft, Alphabet’s investment arm GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Wuxi, reports Angus Liu in Fierce Biotech.
According to Liu, “Biopharma companies, medical research institutions and healthcare facilities have growing interest in getting more genomics data, and that has translated into new investments… The California company’s cloud-based platform enables sharing, management and analysis of huge volumes of genomic data to help researchers collaborate on R&D projects.”
DNAnexus says that its cloud-based platform is “optimized to address the challenges of security, scalability and collaboration, for organizations that are pursuing genomic-based approaches to health, in the clinic and in the research lab.” The company’s experts in computational biology and cloud computing work with organizations to “tackle some of the most exciting opportunities in human health, making it easier—and in many cases feasible—to work with genomic data.” DNAnexus claims that its programs help organizations to can stay ahead of competitors by leveraging genomics to achieve their goals, saying, “The future of human health is in genomics. DNAnexus brings it all together.”
The DNAnexus platform enables customers to analyze large volumes of raw sequencing data quickly, securely and economically; integrate genomic data with clinical and other phenotypic data in a secure and compliant environment; and collaborate seamlessly and safely, the company explains. These customers have included top biopharmaceutical companies, leading genome centers, pioneering diagnostic test providers and consortia.
According to Foresite founder and CEO Jim Tananbaum, “As the volume of biomedical information continues to increase, the DNAnexus platform and upcoming product releases catalyze collaboration, data sharing and machine learning on which the development of precision medicine depends.”
DNAnexus CEO Richard Daly believes that such cross-institutional collaborations are critical in assembling multi-omics data that result in biomedical insights. The current funding round, much larger than the $15 million raised in 2014 and the $15 million invested by WuXi in 2015, are going to be used on further development, launch of translational medicine solutions and expanding the reach of the DNAnexus platform in clinical trials.
In 2017 DNAnexus made several expansions in the drug R&D market. AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research, a project launched in 2016 through a partnership with Craig Venter’s Human Longevity, chose the DNAnexus platform to analyze more than two million genomes in a decade to provide knowledge for drug discovery and development. In June DNAnexus launched a new microbiome platform called Mosaic in collaboration with Janssen Research & Development to help scientists to store and manage microbiome data securely and collaborate easily. Late in the year, DNAnexus began to incorporate Google’s DeepVariant bioinformatics technology on its platform to call genetic variants from next-generation sequencing data.
As Vik Bajaj, Foresite’s managing director and former CSO at Verily Life Sciences, explains, “DeepVariant is making the critical first step to more accurately identify genetic differences among individuals. By making a reference implementation broadly accessible, Google and DNAnexus will accelerate a growing body of research that requires high-quality genomic information.”