Seqera Labs grabs $5.5M to help sequence Covid-19 variants and other complex data problems – TechCrunch


Bringing order and understanding to unstructured info positioned throughout disparate silos has been considered one of extra important breakthroughs of the massive information period, and as we speak a European startup that has constructed a platform to assist with this problem particularly within the space of life sciences — and has, notably, been utilized by labs to sequence and thus far establish two main Covid-19 variants — is asserting some funding to proceed constructing out its instruments to a wider set of use instances, and to increase into North America.

Seqera Labs, a Barcelona-based information orchestration and workflow platform tailor-made to assist scientists and engineers order and achieve insights from cloud-based genomic information troves, in addition to to sort out different life science purposes that contain harnessing advanced information from a number of places, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding.

Talis Capital and Speedinvest co-led this spherical, with participation additionally from earlier backer BoxOne Ventures and a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan’s effort to again open supply software program tasks for science purposes.

Seqera — a portmanteau of “sequence” and “period”, the age of sequencing information, mainly — had beforehand raised lower than $1 million, and quietly, it’s already producing revenues, with 5 of the world’s greatest pharmaceutical firms a part of its buyer base, alongside biotech and different life sciences prospects.

Seqera was spun out of the Centre for Genomic Regulation, a biomedical analysis middle based mostly out of Barcelona, the place it was constructed because the industrial software of Nextflow, open-source workflow and information orchestration software program initially created by the founders of Seqera, Evan Floden and Paolo Di Tommaso, on the CGR.

Floden, Seqera’s CEO, instructed TechCrunch that he and Di Tommaso had been motivated to create Seqera in 2018 after seeing Nextflow achieve a number of traction within the life science group, and subsequently getting a number of repeat requests for additional customization and options. Each Nextflow and Seqera have seen a number of utilization: the Nextflow runtime has been downloaded over 2 million instances, the corporate mentioned, whereas Seqera’s industrial cloud providing has now processed greater than 5 billion duties.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a traditional instance of the acute problem that Seqera (and by affiliation Nextflow) goals to deal with within the scientific group. With Covid-19 outbreaks taking place globally, every time a check for Covid-19 is processed in a lab, stay genetic samples of the virus get collected. Taken collectively, these hundreds of thousands of exams symbolize a goldmine of details about the coronavirus and the way it’s mutating, and when and the place it’s doing so. For a brand new virus about which so little is known and that’s nonetheless persisting, that’s invaluable information.

So the issue isn’t if the information exists for higher insights (it does); it’s that it’s almost inconceivable to make use of extra legacy instruments to view that information as a holistic physique. It’s in too many locations, and there’s simply an excessive amount of of it, and it’s rising day-after-day (and altering day-after-day), which implies that conventional approaches of porting information to a centralized location to run analytics on it simply wouldn’t be environment friendly, and would break the bank to execute.

That’s the place Segera is available in. The corporate’s expertise treats every supply of information throughout completely different clouds as a salient pipeline which may be merged and analyzed as a single physique, with out that information ever leaving the boundaries of the infrastructure the place it already exists. Customised to concentrate on genomic troves, scientists can then question that info for extra insights. Seqera was central to the invention of each the alpha and delta variants of the virus, and work continues to be ongoing as Covid-19 continues to hammer the globe.

Seqera is being utilized in different kinds of medical purposes, resembling within the realm of so-called “precision drugs.” That is rising as a really massive alternative in advanced fields like oncology: most cancers mutates and behaves in a different way relying on many elements, together with genetic variations of the sufferers themselves, which implies that therapies are much less efficient if they’re “one measurement matches all.”

More and more, we’re seeing approaches that leverage machine studying and large information analytics to raised perceive particular person cancers and the way they develop for various populations, to subsequently create extra customized therapies, and Seqera comes into play as a option to sequence that type of information.

This additionally highlights one thing else notable in regards to the Seqera platform: it’s used straight by the people who find themselves analyzing the information — that’s, the researchers and scientists themselves, with out information specialists essentially needing to become involved. This was a sensible precedence for the corporate, Floden instructed me, however nonetheless, it’s an fascinating element of how the platform is inadvertently a part of that larger pattern of “no-code/low-code” software program, designed to make extremely technical processes usable by non-technical individuals.

It’s each the present alternative, and the way Seqera could be utilized sooner or later throughout different kinds of information that lives within the cloud, that makes it an fascinating firm, and it appears an fascinating funding, too.

“Developments in machine studying, and the proliferation of volumes and forms of information, are resulting in more and more extra purposes of laptop science in life sciences and biology,” mentioned Kirill Tasilov, principal at Talis Capital, in a press release. “Whereas that is extremely thrilling from a humanity perspective, it’s additionally skyrocketing the price of experiments to typically hundreds of thousands of {dollars} per undertaking as they turn into computer-heavy and sophisticated to run. Nextflow is already a ubiquitous answer on this house and Seqera is driving these capabilities at an enterprise degree – and in doing so, is bringing the complete life sciences business into the trendy age. We’re thrilled to be part of Seqera’s journey.”

“With the explosion of organic information from low cost, industrial DNA sequencing, there’s a urgent must analyse more and more rising and sophisticated portions of information,” added Arnaud Bakker, principal at Speedinvest. “Seqera’s open and cloud-first framework offers a complicated tooling equipment permitting organisations to scale advanced deployments of information evaluation and allow data-driven life sciences options.”

Though drugs and life sciences are maybe Seqera’s most evident and well timed purposes as we speak, the framework initially designed for genetics and biology may be utilized to are numerous different areas: AI coaching, picture evaluation and astronomy are three early use instances, Floden mentioned. Astronomy is probably very apt, since evidently the sky is the restrict.

“We expect we’re within the century of biology,” Floden mentioned. “It’s the middle of exercise and it’s turning into data-centric, and we’re right here to construct companies round that.”

Seqera isn’t disclosing its valuation with this spherical.



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