24 October 2019 Leveraging genetic information to improve healthcare What do architects approach designing a house or a road? They think about the purpose of the construction and then come up with a design that brings together utility and aesthetics. There are, however, two more things they need to consider to ensure the safety of the constructions: potential weaknesses and risk factors. In contrast to architecture, medicine has traditionally relied on an entirely different approach: medical professionals examine patients and whenever they discover a problem, they prescribe a specific treatment. The technological revolution of the past several years now allows doctors to adopt a more proactive approach by harnessing the power of our DNA. CBRA Genomics is one of the innovative companies driving this transformation. Towards patient-centered medicine CBRA Genomics has set out on an ambitious mission: to bridge the gap between genomics and medical practice by enabling physicians to make better use of genetic information for the benefit of patients. To achieve this, the company has developed Elsie – a digital platform that streamlines the handling, management, and storage of genetic data. Through Elsie, CBRA Genomics aspires to enable the routinely usage of DNA information in clinical practice. The importance of investor trust Leading a health-tech start-up with a futuristic vision takes a lot of courage and learning along the way. In this challenging position, CBRA Genomics’ CEO Ana Catarina Gomes has had the good fortune of having as investors people and organizations that share her belief in the need to integrate genetic information into daily medical practice. The company, which has offices in Portugal and Germany, has so far completed three funding rounds (2013, 2016, 2018), raising more than EUR 4.2 million from Biocant Ventures, Critical Software, Portugal Ventures, and Green Innovations Bio Tech. Drawing on this support from investors, Gomes has been working on the creation of a family-friendly culture whereby employees feel valued and relaxed, have the space to challenge the status quo, and grow by creatively tackling the challenges they come across. Better DNA analysis, healthier patients After an initial stage, in which the company focused on developing and protecting its product, CBRA Genomics has set up a proof-of-concept in collaboration with the Pediatric Genetics Unit of the University of Coimbra’s Hospitals. As part of this process, they have enrolled 50 children with learning disabilities in a whole exome sequencing program that enables a more precise diagnosis and more personalized treatment. Gomes says that being able to improve the lives of these children and their families has been the company’s biggest achievement, adding that it enlightens their journey.