Microsoft, Google invest in genomics platform firm DNAnexus

Biopharma companies, medical research institutions and healthcare facilities have growing interest in getting more genomics data, and that has translated into new investments. A $58 million financing round DNAnexus completed is just one recent example.

The round was led by healthcare-focused investment firm Foresite Capital, with strategic investment from Microsoft. Alphabet’s investment arm GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Wuxi AppTec’s genomics subsidiary WuXi NextCODE are among existing investors that also participated.

The California company’s cloud-based platform enables sharing, management and analysis of huge volumes of genomic data to help researchers collaborate on R&D projects.

“As the volume of biomedical information continues to increase, the DNAnexus platform and upcoming product releases catalyze collaboration, data sharing and machine learning on which the development of precision medicine depends,” Foresite founder and CEO Jim Tananbaum said in a statement.

To DNAnexus CEO Richard Daly, such cross-institutional collaborations are crucial in creating multi-omics data that aid biomedical insights. The $58 million—a large infusion compared with the $15 million it raised back in 2014 and another $15 million it got from WuXi in 2015—will be used on further development and launch of its translational medicine solutions, as well as expanding the reach of its platform in clinical trials, said Daly.

DNAnexus has made quite a few high-profile expansions in the drug R&D market in 2017.

Its platform was chosen by AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research, a project launched in 2016 through a partnership with Craig Venter’s Human Longevity, to analyze over two million genomes in a decade to inform drug discovery and development.

RELATED: AstraZeneca teams with Venter to mine genomes for R&D insights

In June, it launched a new microbiome platform called Mosaic in collaboration with Janssen Research & Development. The idea is quite the same, that scientists could store and manage microbiome data securely and collaborate easily.

A few weeks ago, DNAnexus started incorporating Google’s new DeepVariant bioinformatics technology on its platform. The Google-developed tool uses deep learning to call genetic variants from next-generation sequencing data.

“DeepVariant is one of the first tools to deliver on that promise by making the critical first step to more accurately identify genetic differences among individuals,” Vik Bajaj, Foresite’s managing director and former CSO at Verily Life Sciences, said in a statement back then. “By making a reference implementation broadly accessible, I believe Google and DNAnexus will accelerate a growing body of research that requires high-quality genomic information.”