Genomics, the study of an individual’s genes and their interactions, has the potential to revolutionize disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. However, researchers often face challenges in accessing large and diverse genomic datasets to find the answers they seek. To address this issue, a data-sharing system called sBeacon has been developed to enable efficient transfer of genomic information between research institutions.
sBeacon technology allows for the secure transfer of genomic data between hospitals and research institutions around the world. Each institution creates a beacon, which can be activated to request specific information or queries. These requests are then answered by a global network of institutions that illuminate their own beacons to share relevant aspects of their data. Currently, there are only 54 organizations with active beacons as of March 2023.
To overcome the barriers in genomic data sharing, researchers developed Serverless Beacon, or “sBeacon.” Unlike other beacon systems, sBeacon is cloud-native, eliminating the need for a central database and allowing data owners to retain control over their information, ensuring patient privacy and security. Additionally, sBeacon charges institutions only when their beacon is queried, making it significantly faster and more cost-effective compared to other implementations.
The goal of sBeacon is to make genomic data sharing more accessible to a broader range of organizations, including small hospitals, health agencies, and research facilities. By lowering the barriers to entry, sBeacon aims to increase the number of participating research institutions and encourage the sharing of data from genetically diverse cohorts. This will provide clinicians and researchers with representative data that can lead to more effective treatments for all patients, regardless of their genetic background.
With real-time analysis capabilities, sBeacon has the potential to improve the treatment of complex diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. By enabling researchers and clinicians to query medical data alongside patients’ genetic information, sBeacon offers a powerful tool for advancing precision medicine.
Source: Nature Biotechnology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41587-023-01972-9.