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Bridging the Gap: Startups Exploring Diversity in Genetics and Biotechnology Research

By Henry Duah

As the landscape of biotechnology and genomics research keeps evolving, there remains a challenge that is yet to be completely dealt with – that is achieving diversity in genomics and clinical trial research. According to a study by Ruderman (2013), the requirement for increased diversity within genomic databases remains unmet. The striking disparity emphasises the pressing need for innovative solutions to address the lack of diversity in genetics and drug discovery, and startups are stepping up to the challenge. Startups are emerging as key players in a profound and transformative movement: bridging diversity in genetics, biotechnology and drug discovery research. Through groundbreaking technologies, collaborative initiatives, and inclusive approaches, these startups are driving progress towards a more equitable and representative future in genomics and biotechnology research.

Achieving diversity in biotechnologies and genomics research is essential for ensuring that advancements are applicable and beneficial across diverse populations. It would help address disparities in healthcare outcomes and facilitate the development of more inclusive and effective solutions tailored to the needs of various ethnicities and populations. This week we spotlight startups that are helping to close the diversity gap in healthcare.

Yemaachi Biotech, a Ghana-based startup founded in 2020, is at the forefront of bridging the diversity gap in biotechnology research, particularly in the field of cancer. Leveraging immunogenomics, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence, Yemaachi focuses on cancer detection and cure strategies with a unique emphasis on understanding human genetic diversity. The company’s innovative approach involves collecting and sequencing samples from across Africa, home to the most genetically diverse population globally. By building the first Pan-African clinical and genomic database, Yemaachi aims to diversify and expand access to precision cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Through strategic partnerships with clinical, pharmaceutical, and biotech entities, Yemaachi pioneers the development of new diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets tailored to diverse populations. This groundbreaking initiative addresses the critical need for more representative genetic studies and accessible healthcare solutions in Africa, ultimately advancing cancer research and treatment on a global scale.

Hurone AI is a cancer-focused healthtech startup spearheaded by Dr Kingsley I. Ndoh in Seattle, USA and founded in 2021. The establishment of Hurone AI is catalysed by a personal tragedy, fuelling a mission to address the glaring disparities in cancer care. Recognising the lack of diversity and adaptability in clinical AI solutions, as well as the underrepresentation in clinical trials, Hurone AI aims to bridge these gaps. With their flagship software, Gukiza, they’re revolutionising cancer care accessibility worldwide by leveraging AI to empower oncologists, streamline patient care, and enhance clinical trial processes. Their impactful partnerships and innovative approach underscore a commitment to advancing health equity in oncology, exemplifying a transformative force in the global fight against cancer.

Acclinate, a UK-based startup founded in 2020 is becoming a trailblazer in healthcare equity by pioneering community engagement and predictive insights to enhance diversity in clinical research. With a robust ecosystem spanning 100,000 community members, Acclinate mobilises trust and data to amplify representation, revolutionising healthcare equity and diversity. Their innovative approach, grounded in community empowerment and cultural connection, ensures meaningful participation in clinical trials and health initiatives, fostering a more inclusive and impactful healthcare landscape. Through their platform and community engagements, Acclinate is improving minority representation in general healthcare research including drug discovery and biotechnology.

The journey towards achieving diversity in genetics and biotechnology research is both critical and ongoing. Startups like Yemaachi Biotech, Hurone AI, and Acclinate are pioneering innovative solutions to address the lack of diversity in genomics, biotechnology, and clinical trial research. Through their groundbreaking technologies, collaborative initiatives, and inclusive approaches, these startups are revolutionising the landscape of healthcare equity and diversity. As they continue to bridge the gap and drive progress towards a more representative future, we are moving closer to ensuring that advancements in genetics and biotechnology benefit all populations, leading to more inclusive and effective healthcare solutions for everyone.

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