Edico Genome Inc., a San Diego-based company that makes integrated circuits for processing genomic data, announced the broad commercial launch of its flagship Dragen processor.

Dragen is a chip that users can integrate into their servers or sequencing instruments to map sequencing reads, or DNA fragments, to a reference genome. The idea is that the chip can help companies piece short reads together to create a complete genome. This is a much faster approach than using a general purpose server, and it relieves one of the most time-consuming steps in working with genomic data.

Edico has recently grown from eight employees to 24, and made its first sale of the Dragen chip last month to San Diego-based Sequenom Inc., a prenatal testing company. Sequenom generated 20 million short reads on a sequencing machine to identify fetal chromosomal disorders from maternal blood samples. The reads were then mapped using both the Dragen chip and a standard pipeline that included Bowtie 2 as the mapping algorithm. Sequenom reported that the Dragen processor mapped the entire set of reads in nine seconds, roughly 30 times faster than the standard pipeline, with no significant difference in sensitivity or specificity in detecting the indicators that help determine fetal genetic disorders.

“The impact of Dragen’s ability to rapidly and accurately analyze data in a cost-effective manner is greatly magnified when analyzing massive data sets, such as whole genomes, or large numbers of smaller tests such as RNA sequencing,” said Pieter van Rooyen, chief executive officer of Edico Genome. “Due to these advantages, we’ve already had a tremendous response to Dragen’s early access program, and now we are able to make our bio-IT processor broadly available to companies and academic institutions with low to very high-volume sequencing capacities.”

The company sees particular benefits for using Dragen for cancer treatment, non-invasive prenatal testing and diagnosing rare disease, he added.

Edico has also announced that a Dragen processor is now deployed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, which serves university and nonprofit labs across the city.

The company is headquartered at the EvoNexus incubator in La Jolla, and raised $10 million in venture capital earlier this year to commercialize the chip.