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Seven Bridges, Google Cloud Partner on Brazilian Reference Genome Project

This story has been updated to clarify how DNABr has processed genomes so far.

NEW YORK – Seven Bridges Genomics said Tuesday that is joining with the University of São Paulo (USP), the Google Cloud Platform, and the Associação Genomas Brasil (Brazil Genome Association) to build a reference genome representing the ethnically diverse Brazilian population.

The USP-led effort, called DNA do Brasil (DNABr), aims to sequence 15,000 whole genomes from blood samples taken from several longitudinal studies around the country. The data is being processed and stored on the Google Cloud, and Seven Bridges will apply its Graf genome analysis software to construct a reference genome.

Boston-based Seven Bridges said that 3,000 genomes have already been sequenced and then analyzed with traditional linear analysis tools. Graf is designed to view human reference genomes as graphs rather than linear haploid DNA sequences.

"Using standard computational tools, we are already finding a large number of novel variants of African and Native American ancestries within the Brazilian genomes," one of the lead researchers, Harvard geneticist Alexandre Pereira, said in a statement. "We want to use the graph-based approach in order to capture the full value of our genomes."

Google Cloud said that its platform has helped reduce data processing infrastructure costs for the project by 90 percent over a locally hosted setup.