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A Big Data Startup Ayasdi Making Efforts To Cure Cancer

Written by  Harpreet | 17 January 2013
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AyasdiCan a big data startup cure cancer? Ayasdi, a startup that launched on Wednesday, may have an answer. The DARPA backed company has developed data visualization software that can make use of big data to solve questions no one could answer efficiently so far. The company was launched in Palo Alto with a funding of $10.2 million by Khosla Ventures and Floodgate.

Ayasdi is already serving clients as big as the US intelligence agency IARPA and DARPA in sensitive use cases such as fraud prediction, terrorism projects etc.

Ayasdi's services are cloud-based and are referred to as the Insight Discovery Platform. The services are composed of distributed computing, user experience and machine learning. It can process huge amount of data, analyze correlations amongst data points and display results in a beautiful visualization. The end result is simply a map of the provided dataset and its connections amongst the specified points. The company is based on an extensive research of topological data analysis.

The startup's software has helped analyze medical data from over 250 patients across 25,000 genetic markers. The service was able to create a map out of the data within a few seconds. In this case, the software enabled researchers to figure out a cluster of cancer survivors - which may result in a much closer analysis to help study those patients who were able to ward off the disease. Apparently, none of the cancer survivors in the cluster went through chemotherapy. They shared a rare gene that might have helped them in their case. For a study like this it would have taken years in analysis, to end up making sense of all the data.

"The biggest challenge in big data today is asking the right questions of data. There are so many questions to ask that you don't have the time to ask them all, so it doesn't even make sense to think about where to start your analysis. The power of Ayasdi is its unique ability to automatically discover insights," said Gurjeet Singh, CEO and co-founder of the company. "Ayasdi's customers can finally learn the answers to questions that they didn't know to ask in the first place," he added.

Ayasdi has already received almost hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from DARPA. The technology is all set to make a big impact in the field of big data. It has already spent over 12 years in research and development at Stanford University. DARPA's former director Tony Tether has gone on record, claiming that the company is one of the top 10 innovations developed in the last decade. The service has also been endorsed by Icahn Institute of Genetics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai as well as the San Francisco Brain and Spinal Injury Centre at the University of California.

Ayasdi will use the most recent funding to help build its Insight Discovery Platform, which is a result of 12 years of R&D in mathematics, data visualization and computer science. The company's work, prior to its public launch, has already been applauded by the pharmaceuticals industry.

The company has about 30 employees at this point of time. With a public launch and the latest round of funding, the Ayasdi is expected to ramp up its staff in business, marketing, sales and engineering, in the coming few weeks. On whether it will truly lead to curing cancer one day - well, we have our hopes high on this one!



Harpreet is a technology journalist based in India. He currently writes on Mobile, Technology and Startups. He is an avid reader and a passionate writer. Prior to ToolsJournal, Harpreet used to write for a major English news daily.

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