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DNAnexus builds online hub for scientists to store and share genetic data

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We all have vast and complicated datasets buried within us, and genomics startup DNAnexus wants to set that data free. Or at least help scientists make sense of it.

DNAnexus wrapped up $15 million for its cloud-based platform that manages and analyzes large amounts of DNA data.  

DNAnexus builds HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-compliant solutions for genetic-sequencing facilities, diagnostic test providers, and research centers. Its technology provides a central hub where researchers can store and analyze large amounts of DNA data, with “unlimited scaling of computational and storage resources.”

As with all data, it’s what you do with it that matters. Scientists can also use DNAnexus’ platform to securely share data and collaborate with third parties such as universities, hospitals, statisticians, clinical labs, and biologists.

Genomics is a relatively young and rapidly emerging field. It’s taking off right now thanks to technology that has dramatically reduced the time and cost required to sequence the human genome. This implications and opportunities of these developments are far-reaching, both in the medical world and for entrepreneurs exploring ways to harness this data.

Quick-and-easy genomics is crucial to usher in the era of “personalized medicine” — where doctors provide treatment of disease based on an individual’s unique characteristics.

Genomics also has huge potential for cancer research (as well as other diseases), and we are also seeing growing interest — and concern — in commercial genetic testing. Take the situation with 23andMe, which had sold DNA tests directly to consumers rather than to care providers. It has worked with more than 500,000 customers, who receive a health report with “clinical insights” and ancestral information based on their test. But the company and its testing methods have come under fire, as the FDA issued an enforcement action against 23andme in November saying that the kit falls under the medical device category and requires regulation.

Genomics is expected to be one of the most exciting trends of 2014, and DNAnexus works with enterprise organizations working with this technology to help them process massive amounts of genetic data at scale.

Collaboration is a huge part of scientific research and discovery. But collaborating with genomic data is not easy — the amount of data is massive, and it must be kept secure and compliant.

Krishna Yeshwant, a partner at Google Ventures and DNAnexus board member, said in a statement that “the next wave of insights in genetics comes from multi-institutional collaborative efforts producing huge amounts of data.”

This is where DNAnexus steps in.

The company recently announced partnerships with Stanford University and the Baylor College of Medicine, which are using DNAnexus’ platform to process genomes and make the resulting datasets available to researchers around the world. With these two projects alone, DNAnexus has processed over 17,000 genomes and generated more than 500 terabytes of genomics data.

Claremont Creek Ventures, Google Ventures TPG Biotech, and FIrst Round Capital participated in this third round of funding. DNAnexus is based in Mountain View, Calif., and has raised $31.6 million to date.

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