Venter's HLI scoops samples from Cleveland Clinic as data-generating drive continues

J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter's Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) has struck a deal with the Cleveland Clinic to access blood samples. The initial focus of the deal is on the sequencing and analysis of samples in Cleveland Clinic's GeneBank, a study started 15 years ago by Dr. Eric Topol to uncover the genetic causes of heart disease. 

Over the course of the GeneBank study, Cleveland Clinic has enrolled thousands of patients and built a biobank of samples from deidentified participants. HLI is to apply its plethora of sequencing approaches--including whole genome, cancer and microbiome--to a subset of the samples to establish which genes and pathways are involved in heart disease. The deal feeds HLI's insatiable appetite for samples and the data they generate, while also helping Cleveland Clinic to make the most of its existing biobank.

"Using HLI's powerful genomic technologies and analysis tools to better understand the biological basis for disease should enable earlier intervention and better treatments," Venter said in a statement. The belief that gathering and combining ever-larger pools of data will yield insights into the progression and treatment of disease is central to HLI, the company Venter founded to make use of Illumina's ($ILMN) HiSeq X Ten. Having ordered two HiSeq X Ten systems in March 2014, HLI is now churning through thousands of whole genomes a month.

The end goal is to have a database of one million human genomes and other supporting information by 2020. Deals like those HLI has struck with the Cleveland Clinic and King's College London--which gave it access to a registry of 11,000 twins--move it closer to the goal. And the recruitment of IT leaders from AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Google ($GOOG) gives it a chance of making sense of the data deluge. HLI is currently talking up the package to biopharma companies, academic health centers, governments and insurers as it pursues its first batch of deals and alliances.

- read the release
- here's FierceMedicalDevices' take