DNAstack Partners with Target ALS to Launch Groundbreaking Data Platform
April 2, 2024

Read the announcement on targetals.org

Scientists worldwide can access and analyze comprehensive datasets to drive biomarker and therapeutic discovery for the disease

Toronto, ON – April 2, 2024 – Target ALS, a nonprofit organization that breaks down barriers to accelerate research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), has launched a first-of-its-kind data portal to provide no-strings-attached access to comprehensive datasets and analysis tools to fuel discovery of treatments and biomarkers for ALS.

Through the portal, researchers worldwide can access well-characterized data collections from Target ALS’ Scientific Core Facilities, including postmortem tissue, longitudinal biofluids, and stem cells. Data can be mined for multi-omic analysis to identify novel pathological and genetic biomarkers of both sporadic and genetic forms of ALS and their progression. As with all work supported by Target ALS, researchers will retain full rights to any intellectual property stemming from their discoveries. Access to the data is free, and information on storage, compute, and data management fees is available on the portal.  

New data will be uploaded every 4-6 months. Currently, the Postmortem Tissue Collection is available and contains unique datasets generated using state-of-the art methodologies including whole genome sequencing, spatial and bulk transcriptomics, semi-quantitative histopathology, digitized images of pTDP43 staining, and clinical and demographic data from 260 ALS cases, Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) cases, and non-neurological controls. The Natural History Study and Stem Cell Collections will be launched on May 1, 2024.

The Target ALS data portal is powered by DNAstack’s Omics AI software suite. Omics AI provides researchers a new way of unveiling discoveries while simultaneously making it easier for data stewards to improve the accessibility of their datasets. Instead of following the traditional model of “data sharing”, the Omics AI-powered data portal follows a new paradigm of “data federation” where researchers keep their data in place, and allow for questions to be queried across a network of data. This approach is faster, more secure, and compliant with open standards, while also empowering data contributors to retain sovereignty, control, and measure impact of their data. “We believe that data drives discoveries, yet, too often, researchers cannot access large or diverse enough data to answer questions,” said Marc Fiume, PhD, Chief Executive Officer at DNAstack. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Target ALS to help amplify the impact of data with a shared vision to accelerate a path to effective treatments.”

Verily Workbench is a collaborative research environment for governing and analyzing global multimodal biomedical data. Target ALS uses Verily Workbench for secure access and analysis of multimodal ALS data, in order to advance understanding of the disease and accelerate treatments. “We are proud to partner with Target ALS to broaden access to high quality ALS data, with the goal of accelerating biomarker discovery and treatment development,” said Andrew Trister, M.D., PhD, Chief Medical and Science Officer at Verily. “Through the use of Workbench, researchers will have access to the world’s most comprehensive ALS datasets, and will be able to collaborate on analyses to advance their understanding of the disease.”

To ensure the best possible functionality and ease of use, Target ALS invited several scientists from academia and industry to test the portal and provide feedback. “The Target ALS Data Portal provides a convenient central platform to access the consortium’s transcriptomic, genetic, and clinical data in an analysis-ready environment. This platform will broaden access throughout the scientific community, to arguably the largest postmortem -omics repository in ALS/FTD, accelerating research in these devastating diseases,” says Dwight Newton, Ph.D., Sr. Computational Biologist at Roche Canada.

Since its founding, Target ALS has been committed to breaking down barriers that traditionally limit scientific innovation. In addition to providing grants for cutting-edge research, the organization generates and optimizes critical tools and resources, like the data portal, for scientists to advance their work. “Target ALS’ innovative model provides researchers with holistic support to accelerate their ideas toward the clinic,” says Manish Raisinghani, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., President and CEO of Target ALS. “Access to comprehensive data will enable greater understanding of ALS and fully realize the potential impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning on therapeutic development.”

Learn more and access the Target ALS Data Portal at dataportal.targetals.org.

About Target ALS

Target ALS is a 501(c)(3) medical research foundation breaking down barriers to accelerate research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and realize a world where everyone with ALS lives. Founded in 2013 by former New York City deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff — who lost both his father and uncle to ALS and was himself diagnosed in 2021 – Target ALS has transformed ALS research through their landmark Innovation Ecosystem model. The organization has fostered unprecedented collaborations between academia and the pharma and biotech industry, lowered barriers to access for critical research tools, and become a hub of communication and networking for the worldwide scientific community, resulting in the launch of 7 clinical trials and dozens of drug discovery programs over the last decade. For more information and to get involved, visit www.targetals.org.

About DNAstack

DNAstack is a Canadian company whose mission is to save and improve lives by unlocking the collective power of the world’s genomics and health data. Omics AI is a software suite by DNAstack that enables privacy-preserving federated insights across distributed data. DNAstack is a global leader in the development of open, interoperable standards as part of the Global Alliance for Genomics & Health (GA4GH).

About Verily

Verily is an Alphabet health technology company focused on research, care, and health financing to deliver on the promise of precision health and help people live healthier lives. We are uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology, data science, and healthcare to create tools to accelerate evidence generation, products to enable more personalized care, and approaches to make costs more predictable. For more information about Verily please visit verily.com or reach out to learn more about how Viewpoint Workbench can accelerate research.