Illumina, Warburg Pincus, and Sutter Hill Ventures set up a company with the goal of helping consumers discover insights into their own genomes. The new firm, Helix, is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and reported received financing commitments in excess of $100 million.
“Genomics is reaching an inflection point in cost, volumes, and knowledge, creating a significant opportunity to unlock information that is currently not widely accessible to individuals,” said Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina and chairman of the board of Helix.
Helix will enable individuals to acquire an unprecedented amount of genetic information by providing affordable sequencing and database services for consumer samples brought through third party partners, driving the creation of an ecosystem of consumer applications, explained Flatley. “After being sequenced, individuals will be able to manage their data and explore an open marketplace of on-demand applications, provided by Helix’s partners, to gain additional insights into the genomic data that has already been acquired. By converting genetic information to digital data stored in the cloud, Helix enables its partners to develop and deliver premium genomic products to consumers without the burden of developing their own assay, laboratory, or database infrastructure.”
Helix already has formed a partnership with the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. The Center is collaborating with Helix to develop applications initially focused on consumer education and health-related queries. The Mayo Clinic also made a strategic investment in Helix. Helix also found a second partner in the Laboratory Corporation of America, which will develop and offer analysis and interpretation services, initially focused on medically actionable genetic conditions, to consumers through Helix’s platform. Helix expects that other partners will develop applications focused on areas such as genealogy, fitness or wellness, and inherited traits to enable insights related to an individual’s genetics.
According to Flatley, Helix will establish one of the world’s largest next-generation sequencing labs and a secure and protected database, all designed in accordance with CLIA, CAP, and HIPAA guidelines. The aim is to allow Individuals to control how their data is accessed.