FDA launches genetic research sandbox

FDA launches genetic research sandbox

The dream of treating disease based on a person’s genetic makeup is not yet fully realized, but the effort got an important boost with the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement that its precisionFDA research sandbox for the genetic researchers is now publicly available.

The online, cloud-based, open source platform will allow scientists from industry, academia, government and other partners to collaborate in developing the science needed to assess the accuracy of the genome tests and software that are increasingly useful in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic disease.

In addition to files of genomic data, apps and a framework for comparing two sets of variants, the precisionFDA platform includes features such as app forking, item tracking and notes, which will “ignite collaboration, content expansion and workflow validation and reproduction,” according to a blog post by DNAnexus, which built the platform on behalf of the FDA.

The project was revealed last month as part of a crowdsourced, cloud-based community involved in President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. The platform uses the same concepts as openFDA, which was unveiled in June 2014, with its search-based application programming interface that lets researchers type in queries and get relevancy-ranked results.

Dr. Taha A. Kass-Hout, the agency’s chief health informatics officer and director of FDA’s Office of Health Informatics, said the collaboration on the two platforms will help advance understanding of DNA data within the scientific community. The collected information, he said, “will ultimately be used to develop new diagnotistics, treatments and even cures for patients.”

About the Author

Aleida Fernandez is an FCW editorial fellow.

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