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DNANexus to Use $15M Series C to Better Meet Research, Clinical Customers' Cloud Needs

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DNANexus said recently that it has raised $15 million in a Series C financing round, and company officials told BioInform this week that the funds are earmarked for commercialization efforts and to scale up to better support global customers.

According to CEO Richard Daly, in 2013 the company "largely perfected the functionality that allows us to support customers' genomic data into the cloud" working in concert with large genomics centers, pharmaceutical companies, commercial test developers, and kit manufactures.

An example of one such collaboration, which was made public in October, involved the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine. Together, the partners processed whole-genome and whole-exome data generated at BCM from more than 14,000 individuals participating in a study that aims to understand genetics' contributions to heart disease and aging. They analyzed the data on the DNANexus cloud using a variant calling pipeline named Mercury developed by BCM researchers.

Projects like the Baylor study have "proven the concept of what we do [and] the business model and now we just need to drive customer utilization," Daly said. Also, demand for the company's platform is growing globally with customers cropping up in Asia-Pacific and Europe in addition to North America, and ongoing plans to expand into the South American market, he said. Meeting those demands calls for some improvements to underlying cloud technology and so "some of what we are doing is to work with our cloud providers to be able to provide some of that functionality in those different zones."

DNANexus also plans to develop "enterprise-focused features" for its platform that will enable customers such as large pharma companies to better manage internal and external research interactions, Andreas Sundquist, the company's chief technology officer and co-founder, told BioInform. Examples of such features include stronger security measures that better control users' access and collaborative activities, he said.

The company will also continue to expand its cloud infrastructure to provide better support for clinical users, Sundquist said. Last year, DNANexus began offering cloud infrastructure for clinical testing laboratories to run their analysis pipelines and store data hoping to appeal, in particular, to newly established vendors wanting to avoid large upfront investments in local compute infrastructure for their tests. It would also provide a centralized environment for these labs to manage and access diverse datasets, connect with collaborators, and share tools, the company said.

Efforts here, Sunquist said, will include expanding the types of data "we host in DNANexus from primarily genotypic data to a much broader base of information including phenotypic and other clinical information" to better enable clinical diagnostics.

DNANexus' funding round was led by Claremont Creek Ventures, Google Ventures, TPG Biotech, and First Round Capital.

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