Intel and the Broad Institute are helping accelerate the compute-intensive biomedical research behind precision medicine and AI-based discovery. Learn how Intel employee Bryce Olson used this research to go outside the lines to fight his cancer.
Customizing Care Through Precision Medicine
Each person is unique—and so is their biology. Whether a person is likely to develop a disease and how well a given treatment might work varies from one individual to another.
With precision medicine, clinicians use a combination of genomic data, health records, lab tests, and other patient data to help customize care. In this way, they can provide the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
Precision medicine can also reveal an individual’s susceptibility to certain diseases before they appear, giving clinicians and their patients a head start on monitoring and prevention. In this new era of truly personalized medicine, patients can receive more accurate diagnoses, earlier interventions, more efficient pharmaceutical therapies, and customized treatment plans.
Precision medicine already has applications in diabetes and cancer treatments, especially for cancers of the breast, lung, skin, colon, prostate, and pancreas. Other promising uses span cardiology, conditions related to aging, rare childhood illnesses, cystic fibrosis, and HIV. Clinicians are specifically looking at applying precision medicine to rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Precision Medicine Tools and Techniques
Precision medicine uses techniques such as molecular diagnostics (which includes genetic testing), molecular imaging, and molecular dynamics to diagnose disease and tailor treatments to the individual.
Molecular Diagnostics and Genomic Analysis
Molecular diagnostics involves analyzing a patient’s biomarkers—primarily their genetic code and how their cells express genes. These tests reveal information that can be used to provide the most effective treatment or predict which drugs will work best for the patient. Molecular diagnostics often requires genetic sequencing.
Molecular imaging plays a role in the drug discovery process, helping capture biological processes at the molecular and cellular level. This enables a deeper understanding of protein structures, cell functions, and molecular processes in living organisms. Because it offers a more complete view of healthy and diseased tissues in the body, molecular imaging plays an important role in precision medicine, particularly in cancer management.1
Molecular dynamics is a computational method that quantitatively predicts how effectively a drug will interact with a protein target responsible for a particular disease. In combination with other tasks in the overall drug discovery workflow, molecular dynamics offers atomic-level insights into the interface between medications and the fundamental source of a disease. Molecular dynamics simulations help weed out poor drug candidates to avoid wasted time.
The original cost of the genomic sequencing topped USD 2.7 billion but now runs closer to USD 1,000 and continues to fall.
Intel® Technologies to Support Precision Medicine
For decades, Intel has worked with health and life sciences innovators to harness technology to accelerate research and enhance patient care. With our depth and breadth of technologies and ecosystem of partners, Intel delivers the expertise, tools, and resources to advance precision medicine.
Many of the workloads involved in precision medicine require significant processing power and data management. Intel provides a comprehensive portfolio of technologies to move, store, and process massive amounts of data, with the performance to accommodate advanced analytics, high performance computing (HPC), and artificial intelligence (AI) models. Intel® technologies support precision medicine applications in the data center, in distributed HPC clusters, or in an edge server that keeps data on premise to comply with data locality requirements.
Intel also understands that both researchers and clinicians require robust security. Only when reliably protected can they collaborate and access the data available within distributed clinical and research sites. Equally crucial is safeguarding patient privacy and the institution’s intellectual property.
Performance to Speed Genomic Sequencing and Analysis
The first human genome took 10 years to complete. Today, a genome can be sequenced in a matter of hours. While the original cost of sequencing topped USD 2.7 billion, it now runs closer to USD 1,000 and continues to fall.2
Whole genome sequencing generates approximately 350 GB of raw data per patient. However, in cancer cases, repeated tumor sequencing can generate about 1 petabyte per 1,000 patients.3 The data size for an entire population can quickly grow into the exabyte range.
Today, Intel® technologies power complex genome sequencers, drive the analytics pipeline, and enable ongoing research. While Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors offer high computing performance, our storage technologies support scalable, high-throughput distributed systems and efficient databases. We’re continuing to develop new solutions to get genome sequencing and processing down from days to minutes.
Code Modernization for Molecular Imaging
Code modernization is important in the health and life sciences industry, where scientists are typically not programmers. Inefficiencies in the HPC pipeline can delay discoveries in areas like molecular imaging. Intel makes it easy for researchers to exploit the full benefit of their software by providing performance profiling and optimization tools, compilers, and algorithm libraries to take advantage of Intel® hardware.
More Accessible Molecular Dynamics Simulations
Researchers hit a roadblock when they cannot simulate large enough systems for molecular dynamics simulation. Intel continues to advance the capabilities of molecular dynamics with fast, power-efficient processors, interconnects, I/O, and software solutions.
Optimizing Performance Through Code
Intel works with industry experts and commercial and open source authors to optimize top industry codes. This helps ensure genomics, molecular imaging, and molecular dynamics workloads run with optimized performance on Intel® architecture-based systems and clusters. These changes are released through major channels to ensure everyone benefits from optimization efforts.
Helping Make Precision Medicine a Reality
Intel is focused on pursuing partnerships and technologies to handle rapidly growing volumes of data, answer increasingly sophisticated queries, and simulate more complex biomedical processes. Through our architecture, tools, and partner solutions, Intel is looking to help the health and life sciences industry realize the benefits of precision medicine to drive cutting edge, first-rate personalized care.