Intel, OHSU team up on precision-medicine initiative to fight cancer

Aug. 24, 2015

Intel announced at the Intel Developer’s Forum last week a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution called the Collaborative Cancer Cloud.

In a blog post, Eric Dishman, general manager of Intel’s healthcare group, wrote, “Each year millions of people all over the world, including more than 1 million patients in the United States, learn that they have a cancer diagnosis. Instead of going through painful chemotherapy that can kill healthy cells along with cancerous cells, what would happen if those patients were able to be treated as individuals based on their specific genome sequencing, and a precision treatment plan could be tailored specifically for their disease? And what if it could happen within 24 hours?”

The Collaborative Cancer Cloud is a precision medicine analytics platform designed to address those questions. Initially, Intel and the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) will launch the cloud, with additional organizations expected to be onboard in 2016. The cloud will enable institutions to securely share patient genomic, imaging, and clinical data to deliver targeted diagnoses and treatment plans.

Dishman called genomics the first wave of precision medicine, which takes into account differences in people’s genes, lifestyles, and environments. Genomics could yield treatments for diseases including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and autism as well as cancer.

In the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Dwoskin noted, “Healthcare providers envision an era in which doctors use data from genomics, wearable devices, medical records, and other sources to tailor their treatments for specific patients. Intel joins Apple, Box, IBM, Samsung, and several startups in a race to provide computing infrastructure to support that vision.” (See, for example, “IBM partners on health data, establishes health business unit.”)

Explained Dishman, “There have been numerous multi-institution partnerships formed to utilize big data analytics to look for insights about cancer and its treatment. Our focus on the federation/distribution of private datasets is complementary to the exciting work that’s happening to make public data sets more accessible to research.”

He added, “In the end, precision medicine will only be as precise as available data allows.”

The cloud initiative is expected to make use of OHSU’s Exacloud, an Intel-provided high-performance-computing (HPC) cluster.


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