Venter's HLI teams up with Cleveland Clinic for human genomics collaboration

J. Craig Venter, CEO of Human Longevity

J. Craig Venter's Human Longevity (HLI) is joining forces with Cleveland Clinic for a human genomics collaboration aimed at disease discovery, a little more than a year after the company kicked off operations with the promise of building the world's biggest human gene-sequencing platform.

The San Diego, CA-based startup will work with Cleveland Clinic to sequence and analyze blood samples from the medical center's patient study, running whole genome, cancer and microbiome sequencing on a portion of the samples to uncover disease genes and pathways linked to heart disease, HLI said in a statement. Eventually, the collaboration could help clinicians better understand how diseases develop and how to prevent and treat certain conditions.

"Cleveland Clinic is one of the premier clinical health care settings in the world and we are excited to be working with Dr. Cosgrove and his team," Venter, CEO of HLI, said in a statement. "Using HLI's powerful genomic technologies and analysis tools to better understand the biological basis for disease should enable earlier intervention and better treatments."

HLI's latest partnership comes as the company continues to scout out new opportunities after opening up shop last year. The startup launched in March 2014 with $70 million in initial investor funding, focusing its initial work on developing procedures with the University of California, San Diego, that allow for whole-genome, microbiome and tumor sequencing/analysis of the university's research patients. Eventually, the company said it planned to use Illumina's ($ILMN) HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Systems to find better ways to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases including cancer, diabetes and obesity.

And HLI has not wasted any time since then, inking deals to ramp up development and expand its industry reach. In November 2014, the company struck a deal to access King College London's TwinsUK Registry, getting its hands on genome and microbiome samples paired with the phenotypes of 11,000 twins to enhance its genomics database and pinpoint genetic predisposition to disease. In January, the company teamed up with biotech heavyweight Genentech to sequence tens of thousands of genomes, moving it one step closer to its goal of sequencing 40,000 genomes a year.

- read the release