21st Century Biology

20th Century biology was good at focusing on one or a few biochemical pathways, genes, or cell types. But with the advent of micro-robotics, information technologies, and high-speed sequencing, it is no longer necessary to focus an experimental flashlight on single components of the apparatus of life. Instead, genomic technologies allow us to turn on floodlights that provide extensive illumination of the complex biochemical networks that sustain life. The 21st Century genomic technologies have shown that most individual gene-enzyme systems interact with dozens of genes and enzymes, making the molecular networks of cells and whole organisms very complex in their interconnectedness.

Among the methods that the first generation genomic techniques (Genomics 1.0 technology) relied on, are Genome-Wide Association Studies (or “GWAS”) to look for the genes that underlie common human disorders. GWAS studies have demonstrated the power to uncover a few key genetic loci that are responsible for major elevations in the risk of such disorders as macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. GWAS and other genomic 1.0 technologies, however, have generally failed to supply medicine with definitive diagnostic tools for most of the chronic diseases.

Genescient was started by scientists who realized a decade ago that Genomics 1.0 was unlikely to provide the scientific power and technological leverage to make progress with the most common age-associated disorders and chronic diseases. From that start, they developed a model-system strategy that is designed to increase the medical value of genomic technologies. Genescient calls this powered-up genomic strategy, Genomics 2.0; an approach based on techniques that increase the amplitude of genomic signals while reducing confounding genomic “noise”. This new genomic strategy is the key to maximizing the power of genomics, because genomic tests tend to have so much statistical noise that it is often impossible to discern the true genetic targets of biomedical value.

Genescient is a Genomics 2.0 company that uses novel technological strategies to overcome this key problem of discovering interpretable genomic information. Its core technology marries genomics to experimental evolution and artificial intelligence based data analysis, in order to extract the semantic content of whole-genome information. With this core technology, Genescient is focused on developing solutions to problems facing pharmaceutical development and clinical practice.

For an overview of 21st Century biology, read:

M.R. Rose and T.H. Oakley.  2007. The new biology:  Beyond the Modern Synthesis. Biology Direct 2: epub, 30.