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Commercial Genome Service Launches Based on Open Data

Personal data illustration

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

17 October 2016. A start-up software company is offering genetic analysis services for research and precision medicine that comply with open standards and access Google’s genomic data sets. DNAStack in Toronto, Ontario, Canada says it has the first commercial platform built on Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, or GA4GH, standards that access Google Genomics, a service based on Google’s cloud technology.

The company, founded in 2014, aims to develop analytical solutions for researchers and physicians using genetic data that can tap into large numbers of stored genetic data files for answers or validation. To make these large quantities of data available, however, means overcoming barriers presented by many databases stored on various servers in different locations. Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack, notes in a company statement that, “due to a lack of standards and simple web-accessible tools to adopt them, genomics data have been siloed from the most effective medium we have for sharing information, the Internet.”

GA4GH is an organization founded in 2013 that strives to make data in genomic databases as easy to access as the World Wide Web, which means finding ways of overcoming these barriers. The group is establishing a federated ecosystem, with common software linkages connecting authorized researchers and physicians to the genomic data sets, still owned by the institutions. In a Science magazine article in June 2016, GA4GH says its work is based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where Article 27 states, “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

One of GA4GH’s initiatives is the Beacon Network, a single search engine into 7 different genomic data collections. Among those collections is Google Genomics that adopts GA4GH specifications and integrates with big data analytical tools. Fiume chairs the Beacon Network project for GA4GH.

DNAStack is making access to its genomics platform free for uploading and processing data, with costs charged by Google Genomics passed through to the users. The company generates its revenues through customized and higher-end solutions for researchers, medical labs, pharmaceutical companies, and genetic services marketing directly to consumers.

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