Study aims decode baby DNA, create analysis tools

Scientists want to sequence the genomes of 500 babies and their parents to find genetic triggers for pre-term birth and other abnormalities. And the chief of the Inova Translational Medicine Institute, the Northern Virginia group behind the project, tells Bio-IT World that the project would require new interpretational tools to gain insights into the vast amounts of genetic data from the research.

Complete Genomics ($GNOM) revealed last month that it would be doing the sequencing for the research. That means decoding 1,500 genomes, with the goal of finding prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic markers for pre-term delivery and other conditions, the company said in a release. With these data, Inova can mount further studies to make genomic data part of care plans and make treatment more individualized for each patient. The buzz term for this is personalized medicine, of course.

It's no secret that while DNA sequencing has quickly become faster and cheaper, a bottleneck in the advancement of personalized medicine has been analyzing and interpreting the data. To glean the insights from the sequencing data, ITMI is going to need analytics capabilities that enable scientists to see the variations in the genome that might point to a specific condition such as pre-term delivery. John Niederhuber, CEO of ITMI, which is part of Inova Health System in Falls Church, VA, told Bio-IT World that talks are taking place with various groups about the creation of new interpretation tools to help translate the sequencing data into information that can drive changes in patient care.

In addition to seeking new tools for interpretation, ITMI plans to tap Inova's electronic health records for its outcomes-based research. For its part, Complete Genomics said that it aims to wrap up sequencing most of the 1,500 genomes by the first quarter of 2012.

- here's the Complete Genomics release
- read the Bio-IT World article