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Sensing New Market Opportunities, DNANexus Launches PaaS for Clinical Testing Market

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Seeking to tap into the burgeoning next-generation sequencing-based diagnostics market, DNANexus has begun offering cloud infrastructure for clinical testing laboratories to run their analysis pipelines and store data.

According to the company, its new platform-as-a-service product provides a secure, regulatory-compliant environment based on Amazon Web Services to analyze test results. The offering includes features such as auditing capabilities, data and pipeline versioning, encryptions, and firewalls, and is equipped with application programming interfaces that labs can use to move testing algorithms and pipelines to the cloud and build customized workflows with DNANexus' help.

The company isn't disclosing pricing for the PaaS publically at this time.

Historically, DNANexus has sold access to its cloud-based system to customers in the research market only. It's now making the move to clinical markets because it expects a rise in the demand for cloud infrastructure both to host and analyze large quantities of sequence data as NGS continues to make inroads into clinical settings, Andreas Sundquist, the company's chief technology officer and co-founder, told BioInform.

Clinical customers have begun reaching out to DNANexus, he said, because they "recognize that the cloud is the only way they are going to be able to manage the massive amounts of data and compute that they expect when they are doing clinical sequencing."

Also, early concerns about data security in the cloud have been largely put to bed, according to Sundquist. "When we started [DNANexus] back in 2009, it was certainly true back then that people had a lot of fear about the cloud and worried about their data leaving their firewall into some other place that they didn’t control," he said.

However, he added, "we've found today that the situation is almost the opposite. People have recognized that the cloud gives you the tools to build a secure infrastructure that’s much stronger than what you are able to do in house."

DNANexus' solution should be particularly attractive to clinical labs considering the cloud, Sundquist said, because it meets necessary regulatory and security requirements and offers customized analyses pipelines and workflows based on customers needs.
One early adopter of the new PaaS, Boris Bastian, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, described the system in a statement as "well-suited for rapid pipeline development and enterprise-readiness." Bastian's lab focuses on understanding the genetic alterations involved in skin cancer pathogenesis and predisposition as well as their potential role as biomarkers to improve diagnosis and personalize treatment.

Also, "working with the DNAnexus team has been invaluable for us as we deploy our data analysis pipeline to the cloud and work toward a production-grade clinical test," Bastian said. "We have relied heavily on their expertise in cloud-based solutions and benefited from their experience in managing data in a clinically appropriate manner."

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