One Codex wants to make searching DNA as easy as using Google
August 15, 2014
Once upon a time, sequencing your genome was a prohibitively expensive proposition — mapping out your genetic code cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and the practical applications of the data were few and far between. These day the process is so affordablethat health care professionals are sitting on petabytes of genome data. Making use of that data, however, is another problem. The current genome searching algorithm, called BLAST, isn’t particularly fast. A new firm hopes to change that, and is introducing One Codex: a genetic search platform that can index DNA base pairs 1,500 faster than contemporary databases.
The tool is currently in an open beta, but initial results are promising. One Codex can perform some actions and data uploads thousands of times faster than the company is comfortable estimating, and the long-term benefits of a robust and fast genome search are incredible. “Instead of using a specific test for tuberculosis, the doctor would take sample, sequence that sample and transform that biology into data,” One Codex founder Nick Greenfield says. “Then exhaustively search that data against all the pathogens and they’d be able to tell you if you have TB, the type of TB and maybe if this TB has antibiotic resistance.”
It’s pretty impressive stuff. At present, the database can search against 30,000 bacteria, viruses and fungi and that number is staged to grow further. It’s probably not a search engine you’ll use personally, but it’s one you’ll be glad exists in the long term.