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Genomic Data Analysis Service Launches, Hosts Autism Data

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

20 October 2014. NextCode Health, a start-up informatics company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, unveiled its NextCode Exchange, a shared online genomics database and analysis service for diagnostics and research with sequencing data. The 1 year-old company also is hosting a genomics database of people with autism for online access to researchers.

NextCode Health says its databases have data from 350,000 whole genomes representing some 40 million known variants, which can be accessed from ordinary Web browsers. The company, begun in October 2013 as a spin-off from deCode Genetics in Iceland, licenses deCode’s genomics analysis platform, including IT infrastructure, for clinical diagnostics based on sequencing data. Hannes Smarason and Jeff Gulcher, CEO and chief scientist respectively of NextCode, are former executives of deCode Genetics, now a division of the U.S. biotechnology company Amgen.

The company says computational and analytical services in NextCode Exchange improve the ability of physicians and geneticists to diagnose diseases of unknown origin by identifying suspect genes and mutations faster and with greater accuracy. These services, says NextCode, can also be shared in real time with collaborators, or accessed privately and anonymously to validate findings relating genomic analysis to specific physical traits or conditions. The company also offers its own sequencing services, including for whole genomes, for clients lacking their own sequencing capability.

In addition, NextCode can host genomic databases for clients. In a partnership announced yesterday, NextCode is hosting the Simons Simplex Collection, a database of detailed genomics and related physical traits that aims to discover rare genetic events increasing the risk of developing autism spectrum disorders. Simons Simplex Collection consists of data from 2,600 so-called simplex families — those with one child diagnosed with autism, unaffected parents, and at least one unaffected sibling.

The collection is supported by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, and partners with 12 university-affiliated autism research clinics. Data in the collection were drawn from blood samples where DNA was extracted and analyzed by Rutgers University. Sequencing of Simons Simplex Collection data, says the foundation, has already yielded some 100 gene candidates for autism.

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