Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Gene sequencing and analysis plays a key role in the identification and treatment of genetic diseases like cancer, obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, current testing takes two to three weeks — time many patients can’t afford to lose. One Ohio company is looking to dramatically improve patient care and treatment decisions by turning this weeks-long process into something than can be done in less than two hours.
GenomeNext in Columbus, Ohio, has created software that can quickly perform genomic analysis to match patients’ genes with known diseases. This allows doctors to create informed treatment plans for a patient within hours of testing. The algorithm behind GenomeNext’s software was developed at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“By using GenomeNext, clinicians are better positioned to take the next leap forward in precision medicine, where each patient receives a treatment plan customized to their individual needs,” said James Hirmas, CEO of GenomeNext.
Having the ability to accurately perform genomic sequencing in such a short amount of time is extremely beneficial for patients, but required GenomeNext to develop a cloud-based solution to prevent bogging down a customers’ IT infrastructure and storage capacity. The company’s solution resides on Amazon Web Service, a secure platform which provides both data storage and compute services. By uploading genomic data to the cloud, GenomeNext and their customers never have to worry about “running out of space” for the thousands of genome sequences they’re creating each year. Plus, customers can avoid having to invest in high-performance computing resources and hiring specialized personnel.
When GenomeNext launched in June 2014 it was originally funded by angel investors. The company is now working closely with Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier, to evaluate additional funding opportunities.
In November 2015, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, utilizing GenomeNext’s genomic analysis software, outperformed 21 leading organizations from around the world and won the international CLARITY Undiagnosed Challenge, hosted by Boston Children’s Hospital. Participants in the competition were given five different DNA sequences from patients with undiagnosed illnesses and were asked to analyze the genetics in an attempt to identify the disease. The first place prize of $25,000 was awarded to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
GenomeNext is evolving and expanding its software to perform more specialized analyses including cancer variants and protein analysis. Their primary goal is to deliver innovative analytic solutions to better enable clinicians to identify genetic-based illnesses earlier in a child’s life. This will allow for more effective disease management and treatment.
“Our goal is to enable even better personalized medicine using genomics,” said Hirmas. “Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been an invaluable resource and their ongoing support continues to advance our innovation.”