New genomics analytics platform from Databricks aims to speed discovery of new treatments

The new Unified Analytics Platform for Genomics from analytics vendor Databricks aims to help accelerate the discovery of new critical medical treatments. 

With a single platform for genomic data processing, tertiary analytics and artificial intelligence at massive scale, healthcare and life sciences organizations can make advancements in personalized diagnoses and the discovery and development of potential new treatments, the company said.

The Unified Analytics Platform for Genomics is designed to enable healthcare organizations to process and analyze large-scale genomics data up to 100 times faster than existing systems, helping to accelerate critical research, officials said.

The first human genome took 13 years and more than $3 billion to sequence. Today, a genome can be sequenced in a couple of days for less than the price of the latest iPhone. The rate at which sequencing technology is improving is enabling healthcare and life sciences organizations to generate petabytes and, in the future exabytes, of genomic data for millions of patients.

This data, when paired with additional preclinical research and clinical data, offers huge potential to help in the development of new medicines and to improve patient outcomes.

But tools and systems used by genomic researchers must be able to contend with these massive volumes of data. Data processing and downstream analytics are the key bottleneck choking research, according to Databricks

“The opportunity to save lives with AI is enormous,” said Ion Stoica, the company's executive chairman and co-founder. “By unifying data and AI, health and life sciences organizations are better equipped to develop personalized treatments and possibly even predict medical emergencies before they occur.”

Significant advancements in genomic sequencing have enabled healthcare and life sciences organizations to generate petabytes of data around medical research, but few organizations can fully leverage their genomic data for meaningful insights because the data is messy and they lack access to analytics at scale, he added.

Through working with companies across the healthcare ecosystem, Databricks has identified common genomic data formats and analytics used in many popular healthcare and life sciences use cases and optimized them to achieve orders-of-magnitude performance improvements at scale, according to Databricks, with the insights playing a critical role in the development of the Unified Analytics Platform for Genomics.

Precision medicine is a red-hot field in healthcare today, of course, with plenty of innovation and market movement from vendors large and small, as well as big advances on the provider side.

This past week, for instance, Allscripts subsidiary 2bPrecise partnered with genomics database company PierianDx to create a more comprehensive precision medicine platform for hospitals and health systems in need of genomic-based clinical decision support. 2bPrecise helps hospitals tackle genomic data challenges with its cloud-based EHR-agnostic platform, which can store genomic data from many sources and deliver it – and relevant clinical information – at the point of care.

Elsewhere, Genoox, a genomic analytics company that aims to make it easier for clinicians and researchers to act on genetic sequencing results, secured $6 million in a funding round. As the appetite for direct-to-consumer genetic testing services grows, the $5 billion global market is witnessing an increase in demand for testing services that empower physicians to use genetic data for diagnostics and preventative medicine.

On the provider side, some major health systems have been making precision medicine moves of their own. Intermountain Healthcare announced it is expanding its RxMatch pharmacogenomics service and making it available to all providers in the system; Geisinger announced it intends to soon offer all of its patients DNA sequencing as part of routine care and is beginning the effort with a pilot program involving 1,000 people; and the Mayo Clinic said it will store some 35 million biospecimens as part of the National Institutes of Health’s All Of Us research program.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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