GenomeQuest Wants to Be the Google of DNA Data Searches


A flood of new genetic data generated by advanced DNA sequencing systems has landed some life sciences researchers in a bit of information-management pickle. But this problem is a major opportunity for GenomeQuest and its competitors in the business of proving DNA analysis software.

GenomeQuest aspires to do for biologists what Google did for people searching the Internet, according to CEO Ron Ranauro. The Westborough, MA-based company has seen an increase in demand for its software and technology, which life sciences companies use to analyze and manage the genetic information they use, say, during the development of new drugs for cancer or diabetes.

According to Ranauro, his firm is having success because of a confluence of trends in genomic research and the way drug developers and research institutions use computers to do this work. For one, ever-faster and cheaper DNA sequencing systems—developed by companies such as Roche (which bought 454), and San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN)—are enabling researchers to generate genetic data at unprecedented scales and speeds. Meantime, life sciences firms are looking to cloud computing to help trim their capital equipment costs and overhead needed to maintain internal IT systems.

GenomeQuest has developed the capability to enable drug companies and other research outfits to analyze genetic information in the cloud. This means that a researcher with an Internet connection can use the software firm’s Web-based software to, say, identify the genes underlying a specific disease. (The firm also sells its software to companies that can install and operate it on their own internal servers.) GenomeQuest maintains its own database of genetic sequences, aggregated from other sources such as the NIH’s gene database kept by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and patent records that include DNA sequences. The company’s browser enables its customers to search its database and compare the genetic information from their own research to the firm’s online repository.

“Research is undergoing the digitization that you see in other industries,” Ranauro says. “We call it … Next Page »

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