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New “Bank” Adds Genomics Service to Patient Care

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Mar 2013
A new company is offering a “gene vault” service for doctors who need a better way to store, protect, and share genomic data.

Coriell Life Sciences (Camden, NJ, USA), a startup company that grew out of a partnership between the Coriell Institute for Medical Research (Camden, NJ, USA) and IBM (Armonk, NY, USA) is offering a service to facilitate sequencing a patient’s DNA—through existing sequencing companies such as Illumina (San Diego, CA, USA) or Ion Torrent—and store it in its so-called gene vault, and also act as the middleman between doctors and companies that offer interpretation services.

The cloud-based workflow could help doctors in different locations take advantage of expert interpretations anywhere, analyzing a patient’s genome for DNA variants linked to poor drug response at one point, and later on, for example, order another for variants linked to heart disease. The company will also use a board of scientific advisors to guide them as to the best interpretation programs available. Since keeping the genomic data secure is a key component of the venture, the data will be stored at IBM headquarters and would be available only to limited users. If a patient changes a health-care provider, the data will remain available for the next physician.

“The intent is that the doctor would order a test like any other diagnostic test they order today,” said Scott Megill, president of Coriell Life Sciences. “We will return the genetic result in the human readable form back to the electronic medical record so the doctor can read it and interpret it for the patient.”

“No one company is in position to interpret the entire genome for its meaning,” said Michael Christman, CEO of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. “But by having one’s sequence in the gene vault, then the physician will be able to order interpretative engines, analogous to apps for the iPhone.”

Whole genome sequencing is a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time. Almost any biological sample containing a full copy of the DNA can provide the material necessary for full genome sequencing. Such samples may include saliva, epithelial cells, bone marrow, or anything else that has DNA-containing cells. Because the sequence data that is produced can be quite large (for example, there are approximately six billion base pairs in each human diploid genome), genomic data is stored electronically and requires a large amount of computing power and storage capacity.

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