Amid the pandemic, the genomics industry witnessed staggering global market growth of 22.3% in 2020 as governments, biotech companies and private pharmaceutical enterprises accelerated their research efforts and investments to develop an effective vaccine or novel treatment for COVID-19. In Asia-Pacific, the genomics market is expected to witness growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6% during 2021 to 2027. There is a mix of factors that contribute to this market growth in the region. For example, we have been seeing an increase in the number of studies, applications and initiatives for genomics like the GenomeAsia 100K Project. In addition, growing government support and the declining cost of gene sequencing has also accelerated the growth and development of the industry. There is no doubt that genomics has become an essential tool for rapid response in preventing and combatting diseases or future outbreaks that will save lives at a lower financial and human cost.
Alongside the explosion of growth and interest in genomics research, several technological and ethical challenges have come to light. Acquisition methods of genomics information, high performance computing, limiting data storage capabilities and data privacy are some of the pressing concerns that need to be addressed. This continues to fuel the need for future-proof digital infrastructure to facilitate secure data sharing, analysis and storage.
Genome sequencing initiatives rely on data sharing for greatest impact
See how transparently mapping multiple autonomous database systems into a single federated database interconnected via a computer network and geographically decentralized, data federation is disrupting genomics data collaboration.DOWNLOAD SOLUTION BRIEF
Diversifying the acquisition of genetic information to enrich research
Obtaining genomics data is not always a simple or straightforward process. Genomics data is sensitive by nature and sharing this data publicly brings with it a fair share of ethical and legal concerns. That is where data federation comes into play, favorably disrupting genomics data collaboration. By transparently mapping multiple autonomous database systems into a single federated database that is interconnected and geographically decentralized, the need for data copying and transfer is eliminated, which improves overall research velocity without compromising privacy. To establish this data visiting model, researchers can leverage Platform Equinix® to ensure secure, fast and reliable outcomes.
Engaging diverse groups of participants in genomics medicine is key to enriching available genomics information for predictive modelling that will unearth and validate genetic markers for a variety of different health conditions. Researchers can leverage a hybrid digital infrastructure solution to accelerate genomics data hosting and global genomics data collaboration. A combination of Network Edge, Equinix Metal® and Equinix Fabric® allows genomics researchers to gather and selectively share highly sensitive genomics data securely with fellow collaborators while maintaining open communication and access to the cloud applications needed for workload analysis. The on-demand flexibility of Equinix Metal allows researchers to scale up and down based on changing research requirements allowing them to easily engage in new projects when necessary. Researchers can also leverage Equinix colocation services to host sensitive genomics data in a trusted and secure environment. The flexibility of digital infrastructure will further create new opportunities to promote a genomics workforce that includes scientists and clinicians from wider geographical locations.
Sharing sequencing data ethically without stifling collaboration
Genomics data collection has entered the mainstream. With direct-to-consumer tests now widely available to the public, clinics and hospitals are no longer the sole administrators and collectors of genomics data. This shift in data aggregation has fueled the conversation around the need for consolidating data security and privacy. Genomics data is sensitive by nature and sharing this data publicly brings with it a fair share of ethical and legal concerns.
One solution rapidly gaining traction comes from a growing number of users open to sharing their de-identified data to receive updates on health reports or to contribute their data for social goodwill. By de-identifying private health data, data scientists, sequencing facilities, clinics and healthcare providers can still work together to build a standardized and comprehensive ecosystem for data sharing while maintaining the security and privacy of submitted genomics data. Findings and results can be transferred through tools like Equinix Fabric to facilitate collaboration globally with approved institutes based in widespread locations. If researchers need to expand their project scope, they can also leverage Equinix Fabric to enable agile and timely federated connections to genome institutes in other locations.
Scaling genomics analysis with HPC and elastic cloud storage
The proliferation in the diversity and quantity of genomics data (gene expression, SNP genotypes, demographics, health history etc.) have made machine learning algorithms the obvious choice for parsing and uncovering the relationships within genomics data that predict disease risk and personalize treatment for individuals. Deep learning and machine learning algorithms, which come under the umbrella term of artificial intelligence, heavily rely on high performance computing (HPC) to string together numerous commercial applications and interconnected computers to analyze massive amounts of clinical and genomics data.
By 2025, it is estimated that up to 40 exabytes of data storage capacity will be required just for human genomics data. Major tech companies are betting on the elasticity of cloud computing as the only storage model that can offer the flexibility and scale needed for sequencing DNA. Google Genomics and Microsoft Genomics are already building their own interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) that let researchers migrate their genomics data to their servers and databases to conduct experiments while Illumina is using Amazon Web Services to store their vast amounts of genomics data.
Platform Equinix provides an overarching solution that solves the challenges of HPC and scalable data storage capacity that fosters collaboration. Its deployment ecosystem bridges together high-volume edge data with HPC processing and analytics in a secure and private interconnection platform, enabling researchers to sift through billions of DNA units and expedite pattern-matching algorithms to obtain meaning from genomics data. Through Equinix Fabric, private interconnection between on-premise private and cloud adjacent HPC deployments simplify multicloud collaboration for data analysis and knowledge exchange. Genomics organizations can securely share methodologies and discoveries efficiently to create new tools and processes that enhance the healthcare system.
The dawn of Big Data for genomics
Genomics as an industry is already rapidly engaging in its own Big Data revolution. As organizations and individuals compile genetic information and seek to unlock the mysteries hidden within DNA sequences, it’s important for all participants to remain cognizant of the technical and ethical questions surrounding genomics testing and data research.
A new and exciting chapter for healthcare is about to unfold, changing the way we tackle complex health conditions and diseases. Digital infrastructure solutions will continue to be pivotal in overcoming the multilayered challenges of genomics research, ushering in the next wave of scientific breakthroughs and innovations that will shape the healthcare industry for years to come. Equinix is proud to engage with its industry-leading partners through data infrastructure solutions that will assist in the development of new therapies that will inevitably benefit us all.
Learn more about how Equinix facilitates data federation for critical genomics research here.