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Dell partners to drive solutions

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Kathy Gibson reports from Dell Innovation Day in Copenhagen – Dell has expanded its partnership with Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), aimed at helping clinical researchers and doctors to expand the reach and impact of the world’s first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved personalised medicine trial for paediatric cancer.
The new commitment takes the form of a $3-million grant to support continued collaboration with TGen and support the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium’s (NMTRC) expanded paediatric cancer clinical trials in EMEA, starting with sites in France and Lebanon. This is the second grant Dell has provided TGen to accelerate treatment of paediatric cancer, bringing the total contributions in excess of $15-million since 2011.
The grant will also allow TGen to use Dell technology to bring genomic sequencing to point of diagnosis and enable TGen to extend its capabilities past paediatric cancer to support sequencing for other medical conditions affecting children including rare childhood diseases.
Using technology helps TGen to research rare diseases and paediatric cancer treatments quickly, increasing the number of children that can be treated.
So far, in the US, TGen has been able to increase the number of computational hours by 376% and reduce the time it takes to analyse a patient’s molecular data – a process that used to take ten days – to six hours. These results will now be replicated in EMEA, as the infrastructure scales easily to handle the increased number of patients across the new sites.
TGen’s extended partnership with Dell will help it optimise a high-performance computing infrastructure in Europe to enable researchers to analyse and store massive amounts of genetic data more quickly and reach more patients than ever before.
“Time is of the essence in our line of work so we’re constantly undergoing vendor evaluations to try to find the right tool for the job. Dell understands what we’re trying to accomplish – not an easy claim in the world of quick-fire genome sequencing – and it has the partnerships and hardware to help us do it,” says James Lowey, vice-president: technology at TGen.
Lowey adds that the work being done at TGen will help to enable more personalisation of medicine, or targeted treatments.
In addition, by rolling it out widely, it will help to speed the democratisation of this kind of healthcare, reaching more patients at a lower cost.
“That’s where we need to go with this technology,” he says. “We need to be able to go to the doctor’s office, get sequenced, send the data up into the cloud, and get insight into the best path forward.”
While primary focus today is on Paediatric cancers, TGen could also start working with conditions including Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
“We are in the very early stages of this because the data is very complex,” Lowey says. “But there will be changes in patient care in the next couple of years as we combine clinical outcome data with genomic data.
“We need to get more people interested in this. The more people who are involved, the faster we will be able to have a significant impact.”
Lowey was one of the Dell customers presenting their solutions at Dell Innovation Day.
Bjorn Linder from GoalControl has worked with Dell to develop the technology to automate goal line decisions in football, which was successfully used at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Jorik Blass, chief technology officer of Synerscope, has developed an appliance to enable big data analytics across the data centre, with different data sources and within various business silos.
Paul Calleja, HPCS director of the University of Cambridge, spoke about the high-performance computing system that Dell has helped to deploy at the university.
“HPC drives research and discovery process at the university,” he says. “To be more competitive on the world stage we needed a top quality HPC centre.
“And, because we have a small budget, we had to drive commodity computing up to the highest scale.”
The result is the largest HPC system in the UK, ranking number 20 in the world, and a massive increase in both scientific usage and outputs.
“This helped to foster a climate of success, allowing us to drive innovation in a number of areas over the last nine years,” Calleja says.