It’s cheaper than ever before to sequence the human genome. At hospitals around the country, biomedical researchers are analyzing all this genetic information to find trends and patterns, and potentially even unlock the root causes of disease.
The challenge is that we’re collecting vast quantities of data, but we need a safe place to store it. The average human genome requires three gigabytes of storage. Most of the ambitious global genome projects, like Genomics England, are hoping to sequence and analyze 100,000 whole genomes.
That’s a lot of computational storage.
In Boston, a small team of entrepreneurs are developing an infrastructure, called Curoverse, to help biomedical researchers store and analyze all this data.
The company today secured its first $1.5 million in seed funding from Hatteras Venture Partners, Point Judith Ventures, Common Angels, MassVentures, and Boston Global Ventures, among others.
Curoverse’s technology is still in private beta, but the founders plan to release the first set of commercial products in 2014.
Adam Berrey, Curoverse’s chief executive, explained in an email that he expects researchers will use the platform first to make data-driven discoveries in oncology, neonatal screening, and rare inherited diseases like galactosemia.
Curoverse doesn’t perform the analysis, but it can store petabyte and exabyte scale data-sets distributed across data centers.
Curoverse is building its products on top of Arvados, a free and open source platform that is already trusted by the medical community. Arvados is used for genomic analysis at the Harvard Genome Project and Harvard Medical School. It was developed by Alexander Wait Zaranek, the director of informatics at the Personal Genome Project, as part of a vision to publish thousands of genomes and help dozens of other projects launch around the world.
Curoverse is taking a similar approach to Red Hat, which built commercial products on top of Linux. Curoverse is developing a secure and enterprise-ready version of Arvados. And to keep sensitive genetic information secure, Berry said, the company is building strong encryption for data, a powerful access control model, and an architecture that supports private clouds.
According to Berrey, open source has its benefits, but the challenge is that no one can support you if something goes wrong. “The most successful open source projects are backed by a commercial company that provides certified and supported products based on the open source software,” he said.