Illumina, Warburg Pincus and Sutter Hill Ventures have formed Helix, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, to enable consumers to discover insights into their own genomes. Jay Flatley, chief executive officer of Illumina, will serve as chairman of the board.
Helix will enable individuals to acquire genetic information by providing affordable sequencing and database services for consumer samples brought through third-party partners, driving the creation of an ecosystem of consumer applications. After being sequenced, individuals will be able to manage their data and explore an open marketplace of on-demand applications, provided by Helix’s partners, to gain additional insights into the genomic data that already has been acquired. By converting genetic information to digital data stored in the cloud, Helix enables its partners to develop and deliver genomic products to consumers without the burden of developing their own assay, laboratory or database infrastructure.
Helix also announced two collaborations with major partners. First, the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic is collaborating with Helix to develop applications initially focused on consumer education and health-related queries. Mayo Clinic also made a strategic investment in Helix. Second, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) will develop and offer innovative analysis and interpretation services, initially focused on medically actionable genetic conditions, to consumers through Helix’s platform.
Helix expects that other partners will develop applications focused on areas such as genealogy, fitness or wellness and inherited traits to enable insights related to an individual’s genetics.
To support its partners, Helix will establish a next-generation sequencing lab and a secure and protected database, all designed in accordance with CLIA, CAP and HIPAA guidelines. Individuals will be able to control how their data is accessed through a robust and granular consent process.