Syapse Is Creating Single Patient Genomic Profiles from Many Data Sources
The exposome is the measure of how individuals’ lifetime exposures from environment, diet and other sources interact with their unique makeup to impact their health. Neuroscientist Jonathan Hirsch hadn’t heard of “the exposome” until members of an academic research site recently told him that they wanted to use his platform to capture it.
Almost since Hirsch founded Syapse he’s gotten requests to make his application work with types of data he hadn’t originally pictured it working with. Syapse develops software that helps diagnostic companies as well as providers make sense of genomic, proteomic, immunomic and other complex data. As a group, these data types are referred to as omic data, named for their suffix.
More generally, the startup’s original software was first created to better structure biomedical data. That was until Syapse deployed its first app, and it was clear that users wanted it to do something that’s incredibly complicated to do right now ― that is to put certain complex data types to direct medical use.
Very few people today get their whole genome sequenced, so it’s rare that doctors have that kind of information to work with when determining a patient’s treatment plan. However breast cancer patients, for example, have their tumor genotyped several times throughout their course of treatment because as the cancer mutates, their therapy has to change. This generates a lot of data. Whole genome sequencing, which will soon be available for greater numbers of patients, generates even more.
Technology companies are working to analyze the huge sets of raw data produced from sequencing. The next step, where Syapse comes in, is to help professionals figure out how this information should be applied to an individual’s treatment. This requires that a doctor understand a patient’s omics within the context of the rest of his or her medical data. One of Syapse’s applications, which is in private beta, converges omics data with electronic health record data and more.
“It can accommodate any type of information, whether it’s genomic or proteomic or standard clinical info. Or you could put in your Fitbit information if you really wanted,” Hirsch said.
He demonstrated the app at the Annual Burrill Digital Health Meeting last week and showed how it creates an omics profile for a single patient. As an example, he displayed a summary of the mutations in a breast cancer patient’s genome. Providers can use the platform to look at relevant treatment options. In this case, the patient’s tumor was actually shown to more closely resemble the genomic characteristics of colorectal cancer. This meant that she might respond better to a colorectal cancer treatment than to a breast cancer treatment.
Unfortunately genomic data is not standardized, and while this will probably change as the field matures, right now it’s extremely difficult to work with. To deal with the problem, Syapse uses semantic computing. Basically this means that new data types and old data types with new names can enter into the system without breaking the program’s schema on the back end.
Right now this software is all being developed and deployed by Syapse’s team of eight. But just last month the company received $3 million in series A financing led by The Social+Capital Partnership. That, Hirsch said, will be used to hire more people.