Edico Raises $10M to Accelerate Processing of Gene Sequencing Data

San Diego-based Edico Genome has raised $10 million in Series A financing to commercialize the specialized processor technology it has been developing to slash the time and cost of genome mapping.

Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venture arm of San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), led the round, which was joined by Axon Ventures and Greg Lucier, an investor who was previously chairman and CEO of Life Technologies in Carlsbad, CA. Lucier left shortly after Waltham, MA-based Thermo Fisher Scientific completed its buyout of Life Technologies in early February. Lucier also will be joining Edico’s board.

CEO Pieter van Rooyen founded Edico with system architects Robert McMillen and Michael Reuhle in 2013 to fix a bottleneck in the way genomic data gets processed—after it’s been generated by a next-generation gene sequencing machine like Illumina’s HiSeq X Ten.

Illumina and others have dramatically reduced the cost of gene sequencing over the past decade, but a data file generated by the HiSeq X Ten consists of millions of random segments of DNA that still must be “mapped” to a reference genome.

Currently, standard practice is to take the data file for each human genome, which can range from 150 gigabytes to more than 320 gigabytes, and send it to a cluster of 50 high-end computer servers. The mapping process involves taking each DNA segment in the data file and comparing the gene sequence to a reference genome to determine where it’s supposed to go.

Dragen processor mounted on standard bus

Dragen processor mounted on standard bus

Edico Genome says its Dragen Bio-IT processor, mounted on a standard expansion bus that looks like a graphics processing card, includes a software platform that links the gene sequencing machines with bioinformatics servers used in next-generation sequencing.

Edico says its technology reduces the computational time required for analyzing a whole human genome from 24 hours to 18 minutes. The company estimates that implementing its technology could save about $6 million over four years, compared with current technology.

In a statement issued today, Lucier says, “Edico Genome’s solution to speed data analysis and lower costs has the potential to have a large impact on many areas of medicine, particularly in oncology and prenatal testing.”

Edico plans to use the Series A financing to grow to about 30 employees from its current roster of 15 to complete “productization” of the Dragen processor and implement additional features and functionality, spokesman Gavin Stone wrote in an e-mail. The company intends to expand its customer base by providing prospective customers early access to its technology. Edico also plans to stage a major product launch at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics at the San Diego Convention Center in mid-October, Stone says.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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