By Kristy Dorsey

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have launched a spinout company that aims to cut from days to minutes the time it takes to analyse millions of genetic records.

The new firm, Omecu, draws on three years of research led by Dr Oriol Canela-Xandri at the university’s MRC Human Genetics Unit and Dr Konrad Rawlik of the Roslin Institute. Together they have developed a computation engine and web platform which they say will transform how genomic data is securely accessed and efficiently analysed.

Global human genomic data is estimated to be doubling in size every seven months, creating the potential for new therapeutics and diagnostics. However, this relies on the ability to unlock clinically actionable knowledge from this mountain of data, which is costly and time-consuming.

The venture is supported by the university’s commercialisation arm, Edinburgh Innovations, which introduced the research team to their fellow co-founder, Omecu chief executive Les Gaw. Mr Gaw is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and adviser to early-stage technology companies.

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Doctors Canela-Xandri and Rawlik were recently awarded £288,000 from Innovate UK, which will allow Omecu to refine its prototype and progress commercial engagement.

“Our ambition is to create a paradigm shift where disease experts without a computer science background are able to easily query fragmented data sets, while cutting costs and without requiring the data-holding organisation to expose the data itself,” Dr Canela-Xandri said.

“Our recent funding awards mean we can now accelerate the development of our prototype and move towards a commercial product.”

Dr George Baxter, chief executive of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “Genomic data holds great promise for humanity, and the Omecu team have found a way to make it far easier for clinicians to make use of that data. We’re extremely proud to help researchers to launch a company with such potential.”