Edico Genome has entered a research collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the performance of its Dragen hardware platform for public health and infectious disease applications.

The CDC will participate in the deal via its National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Office of Advanced Molecular Detection (OAMD).

The deal will also focus on co-developing databases, configurations and parameters to optimise the hardware platform for microbial applications.

Dragen is a custom co-processor platform, which uses field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to offer hardware-accelerated analysis of genomic sequence data.

Used for the analysis of human genomes, the bio IT processor holds potential to replace or supplement large computational clusters or cloud services that are currently used for microbial genomic and metagenomic analysis.

Edico noted that demand for high-performance computing and bioinformatics capacity has increased with the introduction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) and other high-throughput laboratory technologies.

"Our collaboration has completely transformed the way we process whole genome data."

By increasing the speed and accuracy of NGS data analysis, such as whole genome sequencing, Edico’s computing platform makes it easier to discover links between DNA sequence variations and human disease.

In September, Edico integrated its Dragen bio-IT processor into HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s sequencing workflow for fully automated and high speed genomic analysis.

A single Dragen processor can analyse 15,000 human genomes generated by the institute’s HiSeq X Ten sequencing system, manufactured by Illumina.

HudsonAlpha Genomics Service Laboratory director Shawn Levy said: "Dragen’s ability to analyse genomic data rapidly while also reducing costs will enable us to unveil genetic causes of inherited diseases faster, while simultaneously helping advance our understanding of complex genetic disorders.

"Our average time from completing chemistry on the sequencer to a VCF file being available is 40 minutes.

"Our collaboration has completely transformed the way we process whole genome data."

Dragen is currently used in HudsonAlpha’s high-volume Genomic Services Laboratory, as well as in its newly established Clinical Services Laboratory, which performs whole genome sequencing for patients with medical conditions.