Scientific data management firm Paradigm4 has inked a deal to partner with health-insights company 54gene to expand insights gained from one of the planet’s most diverse, yet most neglected, sources of health and patient data. As part of the agreement, 54gene will use Paradigm4’s Reveal Biobank app to explore the growing repository data available in its African Health Information in the hopes of coming up with new treatments and diagnostic tools.
Paradigm4 CEO Marilyn Matz, told Outsourcing-Pharma that because Africans have “the most genetically diverse DNA” on the planet, insights culled from studying the African genome could lead to a wealth of transformative, evolutionary medical breakthroughs and discoveries.
“Presently, most genomic data used for development research is from Europe, the UK and North America, with African genomic data accounting for less than 3%,” Matz pointed out. “54gene’s purpose is to close this gap by increasing access to highly curated genomic data from African populations.”
Under the direction of 54gene CEO Abasi Ene-Obong, the company is working to come up with insights that could simultaneously address significant challenges faced by the healthcare industry and help more people of African descent benefit from drugs that fit their unique genetic variations.
“There are dangers in not properly researching a genetically diverse population, in that certain drugs and medication cannot be developed efficiently to meet their exact needs,” Matz told OSP. “For the African population, the understanding of their genetics and therefore disease susceptibility of complications linked to various illnesses is far behind that of other genetic datasets. Increasing genomic knowledge for a genetically diverse population is crucial to support overall healthcare provisions for the entire population.”
According to Matz, the Reveal Biobank app at the center of the collaborative project enables researchers with a user-friendly method to access repositories of complex data.
“National biobanks are full of ground-breaking research, but often this data can bring usability challenges,” she remarked. “The Reveal Biobank app is built on top of Paradigm4’s novel computational database engine, SciDB, which is purpose-built to handle large-scale heterogeneous scientific data.”
According to the company, Reveal Biobank users are able to fluidly combine diverse data sources like genotypic, phenotypic, biomedical imaging, and health records for cross-validation and enrichment. The app also reportedly optimized for scalable advanced analytics and machine learning.
Considering the growing amount and increasingly complexity of health data, and the vitality of boosting access to more diverse and inclusive health data, Matz said, the work of projects like this collaboration are crucial.
“It is really important that we are able to support companies with visionary/audacious, mission-driven ambitions and 54gene’s ethos resonated well with us,” she said. “Biobanks are a massive resource to support scientists globally with drug and disease discovery. Increasing the insights extracted from data from genetically diverse populations is key to improving healthcare demands across the globe.”