Childhood cancer research computing cluster to support precision medicine clinical trial

The childhood cancer research computing cluster created and donated by Dell for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is ready to support the world's first precision medicine clinical trial for pediatric cancer. The computation performance of the cluster is expected to accelerate analysis and identification of targeted treatments beyond initial projections.    

Oncologists from the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) and biomedical researchers from TGen will use the new high performance computing and collaboration cloud to identify targeted treatments for pediatric cancer patients based on the specific genetic vulnerabilities of each child's tumor—an approach that could be used to treat many pediatric and adult cancers in the future.

Dell's team has completed the high performance computing cluster that will serve as the cloud's computational foundation and basis for a private cloud. When equipped with Dell's latest server technology—the PowerEdge M420—and a parallel approach to computation, TGen can analyze comprehensively a patient's tumor RNA profile in one day versus the seven days that were previously required—an important advantage in the battle against aggressive childhood cancers. With the dedicated computing cluster in place, Dell will begin to connect the biomedical researchers sequencing and analyzing patient tumors at TGen in Arizona with oncologists providing treatment to patients participating in the trial at 11 medical centers. The new cloud will eliminate the need to express mail hard drives containing tumor and diagnostic images and genomic sequencing data between locations.

There has been only one new treatment for pediatric cancer approved by the FDA since the 1980s, compared with 50 treatments approved for adult cancer in this same timeframe. As a result, pediatric oncologists have relied upon treatments designed for adults, with toxic side effects that are frequently as physically detrimental to the child as the cancer itself. Precision medicine can overcome these barriers with treatments that target the specific vulnerabilities of each child's tumor, leaving healthy cells untouched.

In related news, the NMTRC welcomed Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas, to its membership and the list of hospitals participating in the clinical trial as it continues to expand medical center participation in the US and globally. And Ronald McDonald House Charities announced Dell's contribution of $100,000 to support Ronald McDonald houses in 14 cities and the families who rely upon them when they are away from home for treatment.

Dell's donations of cloud computing to TGen for the precision medicine clinical trial and funds to Ronald McDonald House Charities are part of the company's multiyear, multimillion dollar commitment of technology, funding and employee engagement to improve childhood cancer treatment globally.


"There is no time to waste for children and families battling aggressive and deadly cancers like neuroblastoma," said James Coffin, Ph.D., vice president and general manager, Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences. "That's why Dell is focused on driving results faster—faster than our initial projections—for TGen and NMTRC so that they accelerate time-to-targeted treatment for children participating in the clinical trial and can open participation to more children over time."

"This conference provides a great opportunity for researchers, clinicians and families to assess the state of pediatric cancer care today," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director. "The collaborative model behind this conference is a great example of how through partnerships we can positively move research and treatment forward at a pace not seen before."

"On behalf of the NMTRC, we are incredibly thankful for Dell's support and expertise to help in the care of our patients," said Giselle Sholler, Co-Director of the Pediatric Oncology Translational Research Program at the Van Andel Institute. "This meeting will bring together the top physicians, researchers and parent advocates working collaboratively to accelerate the search for a cure."

Source: Translational Genomics Research Institute


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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