Toronto startup aims to shake up genome sequencing market

Featured in the Globe and Mail, July 22, 2015

A University of Toronto computer scientist known for combining artificial intelligence with big data genomics is launching a company that could create a roadmap for DNA-based therapy.

The company, called Deep Genomics, is set to launch on Wednesday.

It will be wading in to the growing market for diagnostics and personalized medicine based on whole genome squencing.

While it has become common for researchers to identify genetic mutations that appear to correlate with various diseases – thousands of mutations have been linked to cancer, for example – the technology behind Deep Genomics involves the use of computer algorithms that can tease out cause and effect relationships.

It’s a method that was developed by Brendan Frey, a professor in the university’s department of computer and electrical engineering.

The method draws on a rapidly growing discipline in computer science known as deep learning, which has lately been making inroads in a range of tough computational problems – including visual identification and speech recognition – where context plays an important role in arriving at the right answer.