Supercomputer Network Allows for Faster Genomic Analysis

Andrew J. Roth @byAndrewJRoth
Published Online: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong

Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD

A new supercomputer-based network will allow physicians to transfer and analyze genomic data more rapidly than standard methods, announced Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, Chairman of NantHealth and the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, on October 3.

“It currently takes approximately two months and tens of thousands of dollars to perform the sequencing and analysis of a single cancer patient’s genome," said Soon-Shiong. "We needed a national supercomputing infrastructure that brings genomic medicine into clinical practice. By placing supercomputers in the hands of physicians, that need is now a reality.”

The high-speed network was built through the collaboration of multiple technology and healthcare companies and organizations with the intent to provide physicians the ability to analyze genetics, risk, and costs of multiple treatment options, in an accelerated timeframe.

In an analysis of the system, 6017 tumor and germline exomes from 3022 patients were transferred and processed by the supercomputer using a fiber network. Samples for the analysis primarily represented solid tumors. In total, 96,512 gigabytes of genetic information were analyzed.

The test of the system measured the total time needed for transferring the data and analyzing the results. In general, the overall transfer speed for each sample was 17.4 seconds and each analysis was completed in approximately 47 seconds. 

“Doctors will finally be able to provide higher-quality treatment in a dramatically more efficient, effective, and affordable manner," Soon-Shiong said in a release. "This revolution in healthcare is long overdue - converging 21st century medical science with 21st century technology.”

NantHealth built the supercomputing network in collaboration with Blue Shield of California, the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, the National LambdaRail, Doctors Helping Doctors, Verizon, Bank of America, AT&T, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard.

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