Twist Bioscience intertwines with DNAnexus to bring analytics tools to sequencing data

In the realm of DNA sequencing, technology developers are split between building increasingly fast-moving tools to untangle the intricacies of the human genome and constructing analytics platforms to wade through the resulting mountains of genetic data.

A new partnership between Twist Bioscience and DNAnexus seeks to weave together those two crucial pieces of the sequencing puzzle.

Twist’s offerings for the next-generation sequencing process focus largely on library preparation, providing panels and reagents to life science researchers. DNAnexus, meanwhile, has developed artificial intelligence tools to sift through massive amounts of genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic and clinical data to help researchers find what they’re looking for in the sequenced DNA.

By combining their technologies, the duo is aiming to streamline that process of post-sequencing data analysis.

The collaboration will integrate the DNAnexus platform with Twist’s NGS Methylation Detection and Unique Molecular Identifier Adapter systems.

The first of those systems offers Twist customers a workflow that uses an enzymatic conversion process to prepare DNA libraries to be parsed through to identify methylated regions within the genome. Methylation patterns can be used to help identify certain rare and neurodegenerative diseases and types of cancer, so adding the workflow to diagnostic tests can make it easier for researchers to spot the unique signs of those diseases.

The Unique Molecular Identifier Adapter system, meanwhile, is another sample preparation tool that helps sequencers single out low-frequency somatic variants in cell-free DNA—another key indicator of certain forms of cancer.

For its part, the DNAnexus platform has been built on a compendium of more than 65 petabytes of genomic sequencing results—an unfathomable amount, since a single petabyte is approximately the equivalent of 500 billion pages of text.

The platform’s AI and machine learning tools have been trained to quickly wade through all of that information, as well as through the results of researchers’ latest sequencing runs, automatically spotting variants and patterns that can be used to help develop new drugs and diagnostic tests.

“Twist’s proprietary synthetic DNA tools continue to be used to advance research and precision medicine and to change the way diagnostics are developed,” said John Ellithorpe, Ph.D., president of DNAnexus. “With the integrated DNAnexus platform, Twist customers can now reduce the complex data analysis bottleneck, which we believe will offer significant time savings and cost advantages.”