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Dell Launches Cloud to Fight Cancer

November 10, 2011
by root
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Dell (Roundrock, Texas) recently announced a major commitment of funding, employee engagement and cloud computing technology to support pediatric cancer research programs globally, including the medicine trial for pediatric cancer conducted by the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) and supported by The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). TGen will use its genomic technology within Dell's donated cloud to help NMTRC identify a greater depth of personalized treatment strategies for children with neuroblastoma who are enrolled in NMTRC's clinical trial.

Dell is focusing on neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers because of the devastating nature of the disease and to address the void of new and innovative treatments available for children. Since the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one new treatment for any type of childhood cancer, compared with 50 approved treatments for adult cancers in the same time period.

Neuroblastoma strikes one in 100,000 children annually, usually before the age of 5, and despite it being so rare, it is so deadly that it is responsible for one in seven pediatric cancer deaths. It attacks the sympathetic nervous system, which controls heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, with aggressive tumors that are unique to each child. With little commercially or federally funded research underway because of its small patient base, parents and pediatric oncologists have relied largely on "trial and error" in their search for a treatment that will work from among the hundreds of available adult cancer trials.

To overcome these challenges, parents and physicians and scientists from the NMTRC, the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and TGen have teamed to launch a medicine clinical trial investigation for pediatric cancer. The trial, funded primarily by parents of children with neuroblastoma and their foundations, is based on research from a group of collaborating investigators who are developing a personalized medicine process that is intended to permit near "real time" processing of information on patient tumors and prediction of best drugs for a specific patient.

This process generates more than 200 billion measurements per patient that must be analyzed, shared and stored. Unfortunately, the computation and analysis of this information can take weeks to months to process and the magnitude of this task has limited the depth and number of pediatric cancer patients who can be included in this groundbreaking clinical trial. Dell's donated cloud solution will provide needed computing power to help increase TGen's gene sequencing and analysis capacity by 1,200 percent and improve collaboration between the team of physicians, genetic researchers, pharmacists and computer scientists working on the trial.

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