Boston Children's forms for-profit genomics venture

Nearby Partners Healthcare among sites testing genomic data-sharing platform
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Children's Hospital Boston is partnering with genome-sequencing giant Life Technologies to create a for-profit company to create next-generation diagnostic tests.

The new company, called Claritas Genomics, will combine the tests and bioinformatics already developed at Children's with Life Technologies' instruments, according to an announcement.

Life Technologies invested in a minority stake in the company in exchange for clinical feedback from Children's that could help improve its instruments over time, according to the Boston Business Journal. So far, Life's Ion Proton Sequencer is used for research only. It hopes to validate it for clinical use through the partnership.

The technology is expected to reduce the wait for test results from two to six weeks down to one or two days.

Children's already offers more than 100 genetic tests, including for rare diseases, cancer and autism, as well as to profile individual responses to medications. It initially will use the tests in-house, but eventually plans to analyze samples from all over the country.

Meanwhile, laboratories of five partners will be pilot sites for an IT platform for sharing clinical genomic data, reports HealthData Management. The MiSeq sequencing technology of Illumina will be used along with the interpretation and reporting expertise of the GeneInsight Suite of Boston-based Partners HealthCare System. Other founding members of the GeneInsight Network are ARUP Laboratories, Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory and New York Genome Center.

Tech companies including IBM,  Dell and others have joined in the pursuit of technology aimed at providing personalized treatment based on the patient's genetic makeup. The market for genetic testing is expected to quintuple to $25 billion by 2021, according to by the UnitedHealth Group Center for Health Reform & Modernization.

In September, the National Institutes of Health announced $18.7 million in grants for research projects to improve human gene-sequencing.

However, a robust bioinformatics infrastructure, including computing power and high-level expertise, will be key for laboratories that want to run next-generation sequencing of DNA, an article in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics asserts.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the Business Journal article
- check out the Health Data Management post

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