Amazon and Google are racing to store data on human DNA, to associate themselves with helping scientists make new discoveries and also to gain a market share in a business that may be worth $1 billion a year by 2018.

Universities and drug manufacturers are already embarking on projects to sequence the genomes of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly with aims to base tailored treatments on a patient’s DNA profile.

The concept of using Amazon and Google for the storing of genomics data may be preferable to clients as they may be better equipped to electronically store the information, keeping it secure, controlling costs and allowing it to be easily shared.

The Biggest Companies Storing DNA

The cloud companies are going beyond storage to offer analytical functions that let scientists make sense of DNA data. Microsoft and IBM are also involved in this market, which suggests it is extremely competitive.

DNA in the CloudThe cloud refers to data or software that is stored in a server and is accessible via the internet, which allows users to access it without downloading it to their own computer or storage device.

Craig Venter, who led a private effort to sequence the human genome in the 1990s said: “The Cloud is the entire future of this field.” His new company, Human Longevity Inc, recently tried to import genomic data from servers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville Maryland.

The transmission was so slow, with scientists resorting to sending disks and USB sticks via couriers and messengers. The company now uses Amazon Web Services.

A collaboration between US companies Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Geisinger Health Systems also used this service to sequence 250,000 genomes. Raw DNA data is uploaded to Amazon’s cloud where software from privately held DNAnexus assembles the millions of fragments into the full, 3-billion-letter long genome.

Algorithms then determine where an individual genome differs from the ‘reference’ human genome, in the hopes of identifying new drug targets.

DNA Data Storage “a Perfect Storm”

Neither Amazon nor Google are disclosing the amount of genomics data it holds. Many may be worried about the security implications of holding such vast amounts of DNA data that can be so easily shared when required.

However, many will attest that it will be more secure than many of the current systems. Ryan Permeh, chief scientist at cybersecurity company Cylance Inc, said that universities are “generally pretty porous” and the security of federal government computers is “not at the top of the class.”

Matt Wood, general manager for Data Science at Amazon Web Services, sees the cloud’s demand within genomics as “a perfect storm” as the amount of data being created, the need for collaboration and the move of genomics into clinical care accelerate.

AlphaBiolabs’ DNA testing remains 100% confidential and maintains chain of custody throughout the entire process. This not only means that our legal DNA testing are court approved and can be used for legal and immigration purposes, but also that strict procedures are followed to maintain the data’s security and also the sample’s integrity.

When you use our services your case will be password protected, allowing only those you wish to gain access to information regarding the results (for example) the ability to do so. We also follow procedures in accordance with all the relevant legal legislation including the Data Protection Act and The Human Tissue Act. This means you can be rest assured that your information is kept secure.

For more information on our DNA testing processes, or to arrange a test please contact our friendly customer service team on 0333 600 1300 or info@alphabiolabs.co.uk

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