As the global caseload of COVID-19 exceeds 16.5 million people in over 200 countries, scientists are racing to study the genetics of the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, to inform the development of urgently needed diagnostics and treatments. COVID Cloud is a software solution created by DNAstack that connects and shares a large and growing number of viral genomes seen around the world combined with visualization and analytical tools for scientists to examine the molecular machinery of the virus as it continues to spread and evolve.
“By sharing genetic data globally, we can mount a sort of digital immune response to help us defend against this and future outbreaks,” said Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack. “With COVID Cloud, we can help scientists take the best technologies in genomics, data sharing, cloud computing, and machine learning to the fight against COVID-19.”
COVID Cloud provides unified access to a globally representative repository of viral genomes, which is updated daily with new sequences from international biobanks. In order to reduce errors that arise when comparing datasets from multiple sources, DNAstack processes raw data using harmonized bioinformatics pipelines. These pipelines have been authored in the platform-agnostic Workflow Description Language and published as open source on Dockstore and Github, to promote reproducible science and community collaboration.
Datasets are shared over an integrated set of APIs defined by the Global Alliance for Genomics & Health, providing a standards-compliant platform on which the community can build powerful integrations and applications. For example, all of the files in COVID Cloud are served over the GA4GH Data Repository Service, a vendor-neutral way of representing files, to streamline their use in downstream analytical environments such as Jupyter Notebooks, Microsoft Power BI, and DNAstack’s Workflow Execution Service.
COVID Cloud also gives scientists intuitive controls for interactive exploration of the data. Using the Sequences tool, users can search over the entire catalogue of genomics data and information about the original source, collection date, and geographic location. Beacon lets scientists look up the prevalence of specific genetic mutations, such as D614G, a variant that appears to make SARS-CoV-2 more transmissible. With Molecules, researchers can manipulate three-dimensional representations of proteins encoded by the viral genome, like the Spike protein, in order to understand their physical conformations and predict how genetic mutations and therapeutic interventions may impact their function.
COVID Cloud is hosted by DNAstack as a free service deployed on Microsoft Azure. The software that powers COVID Cloud is available to license for sharing public or private collections of genomics and clinical data related to COVID-19 or other disease areas.
The development of COVID Cloud has been supported through feasibility funding of the Digital Technology Supercluster’s COVID-19 Program, which aims to improve the health and safety of Canadians and support Canada’s ability to address issues created by the COVID-19 outbreak.
DNAstack’s mission is to improve the lives of millions of people by breaking down barriers to data sharing and discovery. DNAstack develops standards and technologies for scientists to more efficiently find, access, and analyze the world’s exponentially growing volumes of genomic and biomedical data. For additional support or partnership interest, please contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Digital Technology Supercluster
The Digital Technology Supercluster solves some of industry’s and society’s biggest problems through Canadian-made technologies. We bring together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including healthcare, natural resources, manufacturing, and transportation. Through this ‘collaborative innovation,’ the Supercluster helps to drive solutions better than any single organization could on its own. The Digital Technology Supercluster is led by industry leaders such as D-Wave, LifeLabs, LlamaZOO, Lululemon, MDA, Microsoft, Mosaic Forest Management, Sanctuary AI, Teck Resources Limited, TELUS, Terramera, and 1Qbit. Together, we work to position Canada as a global hub for digital innovation. A full list of Members can be found here.
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