SCOTTISH entrepreneur David Sibbald's Aridhia Informatics venture has been successful in a UK-Government-led competition to accelerate the development of data management and analytical techniques that will help deliver genomic medicine within the National Health Service in England.
Edinburgh-based Aridhia, which has created a software platform to enable analysis of large amounts of health-related data to support treatment of patients, announced yesterday that it had won funding in a Small Business Research Initiative competition led by Genomics England, a company set up by the Department of Health.
Aridhia noted the objective of the competition had been to discover innovative technologies that would address the requirements of Genomics England's 100,000 Genomes Project and demonstrate the solution could provide the NHS with meaningful and actionable data based on patients' genetic material. It highlighted the goal of making these data a routine part of clinical decision-making.
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Aridhia said its bid had focused on the scale and accuracy of the analytics required to deliver genomic medicine as a routine service by enabling the "industrialisation" of multiple annotation pipelines from different genomic sequence and bio-informatics providers.
It added that if healthcare and research organisations were to deliver on the promise of genomic medicine, this would require considerable developments around the integration, clinical validation and curation of large-scale clinical and genomic data-sets.
Aridhia said the Department of Health was investing up to £10m in total in the competition, managed by Genomics England.
A spokeswoman noted Aridhia was one of eight winners, and said the company would use funding from phase one of the competition to demonstrate the technical feasibility of its innovative proposals that would help to treat rare diseases and cancer.
Genomics England was set up to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in December 2012. This project aims to sequence 100,000 personal DNA codes of patients over five years.
Genomics England says on its website that this "unrivalled knowledge" will help doctors' understanding, leading to better and earlier diagnosis and personalised care.
It adds that, based on expert scientific advice, it will start by tackling cancer, rare diseases and infectious diseases.
Aridhia said its ground-breaking work would be carried out at the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, in Glasgow, on AnalytiXagility, the recently launched healthcare and research data science platform developed by the Scottish company. Aridhia is leading a consortium of specialists, including Fios Genomics, EMC and Pivotal, in this project.
Mr Sibbald, chief executive of Aridhia, said: "Clinical interpretation of sequence data can inform likely disease progression, prognosis and can identify potential response to treatment. Ultimately, this could lead to improved treatment success rates and reduce unnecessary side-effects.
"One of the key challenges is the availability of industrial-strength annotation pipelines that can be deployed at scale and integrated effectively with a range of other data associated with patient care and treatment."
Aridhia said the ultimate aim was to identify the best way to present data to clinicians in an easily interpreted format, giving the NHS access to clinically relevant, actionable information which could be used to influence patient care directly.
The Scottish company, which works internationally on chronic disease management projects and is active in Kuwait, Australia and Scotland, employs 90 staff, including clinicians, life scientists, computer scientists, and data scientists. It has annual revenues of £3m, and works with governments, health organisations and chronic disease charities.
Aridhia's customer base includes NHS Scotland, which has been using the company's software platform to help track the treatment of cancer patients and to analyse data relating to patients who are on complex mixes of medication for multiple chronic conditions.