Blueprint Genetics Aims to Automate and Improve Clinical Interpretation Processes with Software That Will Change the Industry

This month’s “Company Spotlight” takes a closer look at Blueprint Genetics, a rare disease diagnostics company on a mission to deliver the highest quality standards for genetic diagnostics.

Tero-Pekka Alastalo, Chief Medical Officer of Blueprint Genetics discussed with us in detail Blueprint Genetics’ offerings, its approach to developing high quality diagnostics standards, and its vision to connect physicians across the globe to help them identify and address unique rare disease cases faster.

Blueprint Genetics is a company that started with an intellectual property, the OS-Seq™ Technology, developed at Stanford by a Finnish researcher. The company thus is bi-continental with headquarters both in the US (San Francisco) and in Finland (Helsinki). The 150-person company was founded in 2012 by Juha Koskenvuo, Samuel Myllykangas, Tero-Pekka Alastalo, and Tommi Lehtonen. Blueprint to date has secured $26.3M in funding which will be used to get closer to Blueprint Genetics’ vision to bring the use of genetic information to mainstream healthcare with uncompromised high quality, by elevating the sequencing technology and clinical data interpretation platform to the next level with increased efficiency and level of automation.

The following summarizes questions and answers from my dialogue with Tero-Pekka Alastalo.

EB: Tell us more about Blueprint Genetics. What is the history of Blueprint Genetics from when you started to today?

Tero-Pekka Alastalo: Originally Blueprint Genetics was a Stanford University spin-off. The company was founded around an innovative new Stanford DNA sequencing technology, the OS-Seq™ Technology (Nature Biotechnol., 2011), developed by a Finnish post-doc (Samuel Myllykangas). I myself am a medical doctor by training with expertise in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology. We got very excited about this innovative targeted sequencing technology and its opportunities in diagnostics. Since our initial career plans were to return back to Finland to continue our clinical and academic careers, we founded Blueprint Genetics in Finland in 2012. With Stanford being the place where the technology was developed and owned, we knew from day one that Stanford will always be a very close partner.

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The Biologists and Clinicians Still Require Hand-Holding When it Comes to Sequence Data Analysis and Interpretation

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Bioinformaticians are a bottleneck and at high demand. They are hard to find, hire, and retain, while typically being an expensive investment. This realization is not new, but has escalated with the sequence data explosion and now puts a huge challenge on commercial tool providers to build optimal analysis and interpretation solutions that will be embraced by biologists and clinicians, i.e. the non-computational scientists. Almost all commercial tool providers state that they offer a solution that is easy to use and requires minimal upfront training. However, reality shows that this is not generally holding true, and biologists/clinicians are still overwhelmed with most offerings in the field. If a solution is too “simplified,” it can’t provide the capabilities required to do a high-quality analysis on complex data. On the flip side, if the solution is too complex, it cannot be deployed and effectively used without training, which is what the field is experiencing. Furthermore, Continue reading