Genomics England launches next-generation research platform central to UK COVID-19 response
British tech company Lifebit and Amazon Web Services to support a dedicated environment for researchers working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments
Genomics England (GEL) has today launched a next-generation genomic research platform that will play a key role in the research response to COVID-19. This ground-breaking research environment will transform how genomic data is made usable for global biopharma and academic researchers. It will provide world-class patient data security, while enabling the flexibility required for research at the bleeding edge of science.
GEL has partnered with innovative British deep-tech company Lifebit and is using global cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power the platform. The immediate focus for the research environment will be on COVID-19 data and analytics. The platform will ultimately also harness the GEL 100,000 Genomes Project data in the fight against cancer and rare diseases.
The launch of this new research environment reflects a new chapter in the role that genomic research can play in collaborative drug discovery and treatment development for the benefit of the health industry. By using AWS’s scalable and secure cloud computing and storage infrastructure in the UK, and then enabling access, analysis and collaboration through Lifebit’s unique technology platform, GEL will unleash the breakthrough potential of researchers around the world. The data stored on the platform will never leave GEL’s highly secure environment but will allow flexible research access to it. Much like the use of apps on a smartphone, researchers will be able to introduce cutting edge analytical tools of their choice, link those tools securely with their in-house data, and conduct research in private workspaces that are audited, protected and controlled by GEL’s strict information governance policies.
In addition, GEL, in partnership with the GenOMICC consortium, is working with the NHS to deliver whole genome sequencing of up to 20,000 COVID-19 intensive care patients, and up to 15,000 people with mild symptoms. This data will be stored in the AWS UK Region under the control of GEL.
Lifebit’s leading platform will allow researchers to query, analyse and collaborate over these very large sets of genomic and medical data in seconds. Its enhanced functionality and automated tools will speed up researchers’ understanding of the underlying genetic factors that may explain what makes some patients more susceptible to the virus, or more severely ill when infected. Researchers’ findings will help fast-track the development of vaccines and treatments as well as identify those most at risk.
The launch of the new research environment fortifies the UK’s leadership position in genomics, with the aim of enabling global research collaboration, along with mainstreaming genomic medicine in UK healthcare in partnership with the NHS.
Chris Wigley, CEO at Genomics England, said:
John Davies, Head of UKI Healthcare, AWS Public Sector, AWS, said:
Dr Maria Chatzou Dunford, Lifebit CEO, said: