The world of biotechnology has gotten a big shakeup from the Web in recent years as online resources make it easier for researchers to access vital information, and now even everyday consumers can order kits online to test their DNA and get their genetic information (through the magic of 23andme.com). Now, DNAnexus, a platform that provides cloud-based DNA data centers for researchers, is bringing DNA sequencing to the cloud, and the ambitious aim has caught the attention of a few notable investors. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $15 million in a round of financing led by Google Ventures and TPG Biotech.
Other participants in the round include First Round Capital, SoftTech VC, K9 Ventures, and Felicis Ventures. The company previously raised a $1.55 million Series A round from those same investors back in August 2009.
The company’s aim is to build up a cloud-based infrastructure that will allow researchers and service providers to analyze and visualize large sets of DNA data from one platform. In addition to the new funding, the company also announced Wednesday that it is teaming up with Google to build a new public archive for DNA data following the shutdown of a similar service previously offered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information due to budget cuts.
"This is easily a hundred billion dollar plus market," CEO Andreas Sundquist told me. "In less than five years the cost of DNA sequencing will be on par with the cost of other routine lab tests, bringing it in reach of almost everyone in the developed world. Within ten years, every one of us will have our genome sequence as part of our medical record. There is no company out there that is thinking about managing all of that data, and that is what we are all about."
He added: "We serve both academic and commercial users, but our business model and monetization strategy focuses more on the commercial side, where we see great growth potential."
The new partnership with Google will provide public access to those large datasets using an intuitive search interface, and Google Cloud Storage will host the data repository.
The new database is “an example of a ‘big data’ initiative that benefits from rethinking the interface in a 100% Web-enabled world,” said Eric Morse, head of business development at Google Cloud Storage, in a statement. “Combining Google’s massively scalable data storage infrastructure with DNAnexus’ expertise in web-based interfaces, genomics data analysis, and visualization, researchers can quickly access the world’s genomic information from any web browser.”
The new website represents one of the largest datasets deposited in Google Cloud Storage by any outside organization, according to the two companies.
The platform has both commercial and academic potential, and customers range from life science researchers and doctors to service providers and pharmaceutical companies.
The company plans to use the new funds to increase its headcount and drive product development.