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Next-Generation Sequencing Improving Precision Medicine

In this week’s Sponsored Post, Suresh Aswani, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, explains how next-generation sequencing is improving precision medicine. 

Genomic sequencing has progressed so rapidly that researchers can now analyze the genetic profiles of healthy individuals to uncover mutations that will almost certainly lead to a genetic condition. These breakthroughs are demonstrating that the future of genomic medicine will focus not just on the ability to reactively treat diseases, but on predicting and preventing them before they occur.

Suresh Aswani, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Advancements in computing technologies and diminishing costs and complexity of next-generation sequencing (NGS) tools have made a process that once took years and cost upwards of $1 billion possible in just hours and for less than $1,000. This is allowing medical professionals to increasingly incorporate genetic profiles into treatment plans, and dramatically improve patient health and care with next-generation personalized medicine techniques.

The field of genomics has advanced so quickly that PLoS Biology recently predicted that by 2025 as many as two billion human genomes could have been sequenced. This continued ramp-up of NGS utilization is poised to drive rapid growth to the NGS market, which is expected to grow at a 20.8% CAGR over the next five years and reach $10.4 million by 2021.

The field of genomics has advanced so quickly that PLoS Biology recently predicted that by 2025 as many as two billion human genomes could have been sequenced.

The continuously rising costs of modern healthcare demand an extraordinary rate of innovation, which has served to make genome analytics one of the most vital biological activities available to researchers today. Here are a few innovative ways NGS is currently being used in the health and life sciences industry:

  • Cancer researchers can genetically profile cancer tumors to identify gene mutations that help them develop personalized treatment plans specifically designed for an individual’s genetic profile.
  • A recent study which sequenced the cancer-associated genes in 31 pediatric patients with brain tumors resulted in 6 diagnoses being changed as a result of the genetic findings.
  • Germline mutations can be identified that predispose individuals to cancer, and they can take steps to proactively manage that risk through genetic counseling.

While there are clear incentives for incorporating genomic insights into healthcare, there are also significant challenges which have inhibited NGS from becoming a part of mainstream modern medicine. As application areas of NGS grow, greater amounts of sequencing data must be interpreted and enacted on more quickly than ever before. There is also the issue of how much computing power is required for sequencing – processing a single human sample currently consumes hundreds of CPU core hours.

The rising costs of modern healthcare demand an extraordinary rate of innovation. Enter #NGS: Click To Tweet

As the number of genomes that are expected to be sequenced and analyzed on a daily basis continues to rise, researchers are seeking high-performance computing (HPC) tools that are specifically designed to the needs of NGS in order to keep pace.

The Center for Biological Sequence Analysis (CBS) at the Technical University of Denmark recently deployed a powerful supercomputer to accelerate time-to-insight for data-intensive workloads that previously took weeks to run. Drawing on the performance of a supercomputer built on approximately 600 HPE Apollo servers, CBS is able to dramatically improve processing speeds for data-intensive workloads, slash per-assembly runtimes, and improve collaboration among researchers working on shared genome analysis projects. This significantly faster architecture now enables CBS to complete 41 genome assemblies in the time that it previously took to complete just five.

HPC has become a critical enabler in the future of genomic sequencing as the number of genomes sequenced each day continues to skyrocket and medical professionals increasingly rely on genetic information in order to enhance patient care. NGS powered by the latest HPC innovations is driving a transformational shift in healthcare, biology, and life sciences, and allowing the medical community to continually improve care delivery, lower costs, and drive advancements in precision medicine.

This guest article was submitted by Suresh Aswani, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, at HPE. Follow Aswani on Twitter @sureshaswani2 for more tips on accelerating quantitative analysis and news on HPE’s latest HPC solutions for the financial services industry.

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