Friday, February 17, 2012

New wave of Bay Area companies tame DNA data storm

(SF Business Times subscription required.)

Andreas Sundquist is no medical doctor, but his expertise in electrical engineering and computer science places him and technologists like him on the cusp of solving some of the knottiest human medical problems.
Sundquist’s DNAnexus Inc. is one of at least a half-dozen young Bay Area companies using computational biology and genetics to unleash exabytes of stored genome sequencing data into everyday health care. By blending their computer algorithms and software with medical know-how, experts say, clouds full of cheaper and cheaper DNA data could rain down treatments and new drugs for previously mysterious and common medical conditions.
The burgeoning industry of genome analysis — at the intersection of the Bay Area’s high-tech and biotech expertise — could make some visionaries very rich. On the other hand, easy-to-use genetic data could turn today’s diagnostics industry upside down.
But to Sundquist and other pioneers, their companies’ value lies in volume and the ability to turn Big Data into big-time answers.
“You can argue that social networks are for rich kids, that Twitter is for value seekers,” Sundquist said. “But everybody has DNA.”

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