Amazon, Google vie for attention of genomics business with cloud services

The collision of the technology industry with healthcare is pitting major tech giants against one another--with Google and Amazon currently in a fight for rights to store human DNA.

Both offer cloud computing to store the data, through Google Genomics or Amazon Web Services, according to a Reuters report. The tech giants both are trying to vie for the attention of genomics businesses, the report says, citing interviews with researchers and industry analysts.

What do the companies have to gain from DNA storage? Ability to promote their role in whatever medical discoveries emerge from DNA analysis and a chunk of an industry that could be worth $1 billion in the next three years, the report says.

Amazon has not had many initiatives tied to healthcare, despite rumblings of the possibility; while Google has waded into the industry with a bevy of programs and devices. But it seems experience in healthcare tech isn't as important as these companies' cloud capabilities. Reuters reports that those looking to these companies for DNA storage are doing so because the cloud technologies they provide are more secure and allow data to be easily shared.

"The cloud is the entire future of this field," Craig Venter, who led a private effort to sequence the human genome in the 1990s, said in the article. His new company, San Diego-based Human Longevity Inc., uses Amazon Web Services to store genomic data.

Some entities Google has wooed include Autism Speaks and Tute Genomics. Amazon hosts data from the Multiple Myeloma Foundation and won the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project.

Amazon charges about $4 to $5 a month to store one full human genome, and Google about $3 to $5 a month, according to the article. In addition, both companies currently host well-known genomics data at no cost.

Google and Amazon aren't the only companies setting their sights on DNA; Apple is collaborating with researchers to launch apps that will give some iPhone owners a chance to get their DNA tested and IBM Watson is teaming up with a number of hospitals that will use its technologies to quickly translate DNA insights and understand a patient's genetic profile.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article