Optalysys, EL Complete Genetic Project With Innovate UK Grant

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Optical artificial intelligence systems developer Optalysys Ltd. and the genomic research institute the Earlham Institute (EI) have announced the successful completion of the Genetic Search System (GENESYS) project.

The GENESYS project, which was granted £500,000 ($697,000) in funding from Innovate UK, applied Optalysys’s optical processing technology to perform large-scale DNA sequence alignment. The collaboration set out to provide a scalable, energy-efficient solution to this challenging high-performance computing (HPC) task.

The benchmark case study for the project aligned metagenomics reads sequenced from the Human Microbiome Project Mock Community against a database consisting of 20 bacterial genomes totaling 64 million base pairs. The optical system exceeded the original targets, delivering a 90 percent energy-efficiency savings compared to the same test run on EI’s HPC cluster, with an accuracy comparable to the highly sensitive nucleotide form of Basic Local Alignment Search Tools (BLAST).

The project results also revealed that the technology holds significant promise for long-read sequence alignment (where speed improvements of several orders of magnitude over conventional software algorithms are possible) and for deep learning and convolutional neural networks.

“The collaboration with EI has been a great success,” said Nick New, founder and CEO of Optalysys. “We have demonstrated the technology at several international conferences, including advances in genome biology and technology, plant and animal genome conference and genome 10K/genome science, to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. We are looking forward to continuing our strong relationship with EI through the beta program and beyond.”

The technology resulting from this project will launch as a cloud-based platform to a closed beta program of a select group of genomic institutes, including EI, the University of Manchester, the University of York, Oregon State University, and Zealquest Scientific Technology Co. Ltd., in cooperation with the Shanghai Bioinformatics Center at the Chinese Academy of Science.

“Genomic institutes are being faced with analyzing more and more data, and it is really exciting that new technologies like the Optalysys optical processing platform can support bioinformaticians processing data accurately, at a low cost and at high speeds,” said Daniel Mapleson, analysis pipelines project leader at EI and GENESYS genomics test lead.

Optalysys is a developer of optical processing technology. EI is a life science research institute focused on computational science and biotechnology.

Published: February 2018
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