23andMe, Color, and other genomic sequencing startups have exposed demand from consumers for cheap ways to test for potential problems they may have — and Amir Trabelsi hopes to bring that mentality to medical institutions around the world.
That’s the hope for Genoox, a genomic analysis startup that’s geared toward doctors, clinicians and researchers that hopes to lower the cost of getting data from gene sequencing, and speed that process up, in the same ways that 23andMe and Color have done for consumers. Genoox at its heart is a data science company, taking the raw data from a genome sequencing and figuring out how to convey actionable information to medical professionals — and, hopefully, on a more complete scale than just consumer startups targeting specific health problems. The company said it has raised a $6 million funding round led by Triventures, a healthcare-focused venture firm.
“We want to bring [medical institutions] the ability to run clinical applications and use genomic data part of the clinical routine,” Genoox co-founder Trabelsi said. “We understand the direct-to-consumer market is growing and the demand is growing, but there is a gap in clinical applications. Genomic data is complicated especially when it comes to clinical outcomes — how can you make things more actionable for [professionals], how can you reduce the cost and overhead, and how can you filter out what is relevant and not relevant.”
Trabelsi said the goal is not to just hand a patient information based on their genome, but rather target clinical experts that might be able to use that data and better determine diagnoses for patients. The physician is the one that will have the final say in the decision or diagnosis, and the whole point here is to just take massive amounts of data and figure out a few points that a physician can use in order to make a better judgment call. And beyond that, Genoox can update those doctors as more and more research comes out regarding the potential health complications a patient may have.
Right now Genoox is targeting rare diseases — starting from one launching point, much like Color or 23andMe — but hopes to expand beyond that into other processes like carrier screening or hereditary cancer. This is a strategy that those direct-to-consumer companies are also employing, with Color recently rolling out a test that tries to search for hereditary risk for heart conditions like arrhythmia. As companies get more and more data, they’re able to better sift through a person’s genomic information and flag potential aberrations that could signal increased risk for various conditions.
“We see the growing demand for direct-to-consumer, but we’re also seeing more and more clinical practices using genetic data,” Tabelsi said. “It’s still not efficient or 100% there, but I think the next two years we’re going to see dramatically increased use of genetic data of clinical applications or clinical use. It’s not about the tech, which was proven to be powerful by some cases we were able to solve. I think the technology was kind of proven, along the years, and through some papers we published the question was not about the tech but whether the market is here or where are we in using genetic data.”
Genoox, however, is not the only one targeting clinicians with a data-oriented approach to understanding a patient’s genome. Sophia Genetics is also looking to use genomic data and physician input to better diagnose patients, and also raised an additional $30 million in September last year. As the cost of gene sequencing continues to decline, more and more companies will be going after it as a data play — whether that’s in the consumer or clinician-focused space — and that means Genoox will likely not be alone as it looks to snap up the attention of clinicians and professionals.