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Putting It Out There

Ambry Genetics is to announce today that it will be placing data from 10,000 of its customers into a publicly accessible database, the New York Times reports.

The company's AmbryShare database will contain aggregated data on the genetic variants found among these 10,000 customers, all of whom had either breast or ovarian cancer. The customers were all tested for variants known to increase breast or ovarian cancer risk, and Ambry then sequenced, at its own expense, those customers' exomes, the Times says.

All the customers consented to their samples being used in research.

Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, tells the Times that Ambry "is to be applauded." He adds that one of the issues President Obama in this Precision Medicine Initiative has pointed out is that data is siloed.

However, in the grand scheme of things, Columbia University's David Goldstein says 10,000 customers aren't all that many. "It is not clear to me that 10,000 exomes changes the game much," he adds.

Going forward, Ambry plans to contribute data from some 200,000 customers a year to its database, including data from customers with epilepsy and conditions affecting intellectual development.

"We're going to discover a lot of new diagnostic targets and a lot of new drug targets," Aaron Elliott, interim chief scientific officer at Ambry, tells the Times. "With our volume, we can pull out a significant number of genes just by the sheer number we are looking at."