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Velsera, Flywheel, CHOP Partner to Study Down Syndrome Through Multimodal Data Analysis

NEW YORK – Velsera, Flywheel, and the Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are combining their expertise to develop technology for analyzing large-scale genomics and medical imaging datasets.

The collaboration forms part of the National Institutes of Health-funded INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE (INCLUDE) Project, an effort launched in 2018 to investigate conditions that affect individuals with Down syndrome as well as the general population, such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, autism, congenital heart disease, and more.

Velsera and Flywheel linked their Cavatica and Core platforms, respectively, to jointly manage and analyze data provided by D3b on a cloud-based platform. The effort aims to produce machine learning models with genomics and imaging data within a single ecosystem.

Velsera is developing interoperability standards allowing the platforms to communicate with each other and make large-scale data access transparent to users, while Flywheel, through its platform, deidentifies images, runs quality control workflows, and curates data.

Boston-based Velsera said in a statement that its new interoperability standards make 14 petabytes (14 million gigabytes) of data accessible through its platform ecosystem.

"Linking our Flywheel Core Platform with Velsera's Cavatica platform facilitates an unparalleled ability to perform advanced, multimodal data analysis in a cloud environment," said Travis Richardson, chief strategist at Flywheel.

In a pilot study, the collaborators analyzed combined imaging features using the Flywheel Core Platform and identified genomic variants using Cavatica.

"This initiative was meaningful in that it went beyond proving that data interoperability and research collaboration across platforms is beneficial," said Adam Resnick, director of D3b. "We will be able to target and accelerate our efforts to support a multidisciplinary research and care community's capacity to help people with Down syndrome. It’s an important step forward in leveraging these new technologies."

Velsera was formed last year through a merger of the former Pierian, Seven Bridges, and UgenTec. It recently inked a deal with Nvidia to make that company's Parabricks software suite available on its cloud computing-based Seven Bridges bioinformatics platform, and with Solaris Health, to allow that company to offer its in-house genetic cancer risk testing through Velsera's genetic interpretation and clinical reporting platform.