26 May 2023 | Friday | News
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Amaroq Therapeutics, a world-leading company based in New Zealand focused on developing a new class of therapeutics that targets long non-coding RNA in cancer, is elevating its research pipeline by partnering with GeneCrypt, a startup which uses privacy preserving technology to unlock value in genetic data. GeneCrypt have worked closely with Unitec's Cybersecurity Lab to develop a pragmatic and computationally friendly solution to this very real problem. The goal is simply to provide an unbreachable level of security over patient data while researchers and precision medicine clinicians focus on curing disease.
Cyber-attacks and data breaches are a rising threat in healthcare worldwide. This year health systems and insurers have experienced an unprecedented number of data breaches, with millions of patients potentially exposed. In many cases extremely sensitive health information and patient identities have been released onto the dark web.
"This partnership will mean we can harness the power of data and extract valuable insights that will aid us in developing critical new drugs and improving patients' lives - and we can be 100 percent certain that all sensitive information will remain secure throughout the entire process, ensuring the protection of our patients' privacy and data," says Dr Sarah Diermeier, the Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Amaroq Therapeutics.
"It is extremely important to us that we protect patients' health data. Our research is very sensitive because it contains the genomic information of patients, which may predict potential future health issues and expose genetic information shared with family members." Dr Diermeier continues.
The collaboration with GeneCrypt will allow Amaroq to supercharge its existing research pipeline by accessing more patient datasets. This will expand Amaroq's opportunities for drug discovery and business development.
"This partnership means we will be able to access new sources of data. For example, we can partner with companies that have large patient datasets and run our proprietary cancer target identification pipeline on these datasets without having to disclose how our computational pipeline works," says Dr Diermeier.
GeneCrypt's technology uses an end-to-end secure pipeline which means patients can be confident their data will not be exposed at any point during the process, and researchers can use existing datasets that are relevant to their research without access to all the information present in the genome.
"We are honored to be working with Amaroq as Sarah and her team are at the leading edge of RNA cancer research internationally. The impact of our tech when utilized with the groundbreaking research that Amaroq is doing will be significant in eventually bringing precision therapeutics to mainstream healthcare" GeneCrypt founder Kris Vette says.
In many US states, insurance companies are permitted to ask for the results of genetic tests, which has the potential for discrimination and higher costs of coverage for people who are at risk of genetic conditions.
"An insurance company can ask for the results if you have been genetically tested. With GeneCrypt, patient data is anonymised and analyzed by gene region to prevent any reidentification risk with sensitive data. This offers a new level of protection for data subjects in the research setting," Kris says.
To date, Amaroq has received $14m in investment led by the life science investor, Brandon BioCatalyst along with Otago Innovation Ltd, NZ Innovation Booster and Cure Kids Ventures.