Innovation for Pediatric Cancer

Dell announced a major commitment of funding, employee engagement  and cloud computing technology  to support pediatric cancer research programs globally, including the world’s first personalized medicine trial for pediatric cancer conducted by the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) and supported by The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). 

Dell believes that better information will lead to better care for patients and for cancer patients in particular.  Today, up to one-third of the population derives no benefit from blockbuster drugs due to individual genetic differences.  And we know that cancer treatment often relies on the “trial and error” approach to see what works best for a given disease.  

With advances in genomic-based therapies made possible by affordable, scalable high-performance computing, we now have the ability to target and personalize cancer treatment based on the genetic composition and vulnerabilities of each pediatric cancer patient’s tumor.  This enhances the effectiveness of the treatment while reducing side effects for the patient. And with the right technology, we can make it happen even faster and extend the benefits to even more patients.

TGen’s new cloud-based IT infrastructure will help scientists and physicians investigate new technologies that accelerate genetic analysis and identification of targeted treatment for each pediatric cancer patient participating in the personalized medicine clinical trial.  A process that currently takes months will be reduced to just days – meaning that patients can begin receiving personalized treatment that much sooner.

TGen’s new cloud will also improve collaboration between the physicians, genetic researchers, pharmacists and computer scientists working on the trial.  It will also improve the availability of critical information and create a real-time knowledge repository of the latest findings on the most effective treatments for oncologists to use globally.

TGen’s new cloud infrastructure is both a high-performance computing resource and data exchange/collaboration resource.  The donated cloud will be powered by Dell PowerEdge Blade Servers, PowerVault Storage Arrays, Dell Compellent Storage Center arrays and Dell Force10 Network infrastructure. Dell Precision Workstations will be used for data analysis and review.

Specifically, the cloud will support the personalized medicine trial for pediatric cancer by increasing computation and collaboration capacity by 1,200 percent compared to TGen’s existing clinical computing cluster. The cloud’s sustained performance is 8.2 teraflops and is growing.  It has estimated maximum performance is approximately 13 teraflops.  The platform features 148 CPUs, 1,192 Cores, 7.1 TB of RAM and 256 TB of disk storage.

TGen’s new cloud will reduce tumor mapping and analysis time from months to days.   It will provide a secure, cloud-based framework for the pediatric oncology community to store, move and analyze genomic data effectively and efficiently.

It will expand access to personalized treatments for children fighting cancer and support collaboration and development of best practices in the treatment of pediatric cancers.

TGen’s new cloud platform will help medical researchers expand participation in the clinical trial from a handful of children today to hundreds of children over the next three years.  And it will create an information framework that, subject to regulatory approval, could one day help thousands of pediatric cancer patients. 

In future, cloud computing platforms like the one Dell is creating for TGen could become a model for managing complex knowledge exchanges between those interested in participating in personalized medicine.   Here's an overview of how the process works (click on the image below to see a larger version):

 To learn more about organizations using high performance computing to innovate, join us at SC11. We’ll see you at booth #2040.

About the Author: Verna Grayce Chao