Until recently, the time to process a single human genome – popularly called Genome sequencing – took an average of 150 hours per run. A new tool created by technology major Lenovo's Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) claims to cut that time down to less than 48 minutes.
Genome sequencing is basically a method used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type. It can help scientists understand how specific diseases (such as cancer or Covid-19 and its variants, etc.) are formed.
The tool known as Genomics Optimisation and Scalability Tool (GOAST) is aimed at scaling genome sequencing in order to “benefit a large section of people,” the company said.
“The volume and type of genomics data generated is unimaginable and to make accurate decisions based on this data requires huge computing power,” which often becomes a big challenge. This has prompted the tech major to come up with this tool, said, Sinisa Nikolic, Director and Segment Leader, HPC & AI, AP, Lenovo ISG.
In that sense, GOAST has enabled researchers to quickly map a cohort of people instead of spending time analysing a single genome. The tool leverages high-performance computing (HPC) that supports high-throughput volumes to accelerate the speed of analysis, and AI that helps in making sense of the difference between genomes, Nikolic added.
A new report by International Data Corporation (IDC), a market research firm, commissioned by Lenovo and Intel, highlighted high-value personalised health solutions in the field of genomics is expected to boom. Around 83% of organisations in India anticipate their annual genomics workloads to grow more than 10% over the next two years. Similarly, for 80%, the annual spend on data storage and compute is likely to increase more than 10% in the two-year period.
Nikolic added that "precision medicine" will become the healthcare buzzword in the future. With the help of HPC and AI, genomics is vital to develop a precision-medicine strategy to treat chronic illness, and lifestyle disorders.
However, the whitepaper also suggests that genomics HPC infrastructure that is key to drug or vaccine discovery as well as precision medicines, is still at a nascent stage in India.
Nikolic further said that Lenovo will ensure that GOAST is widely available across the country with no licensing fee and a one-time investment (around $100,000), and comes with a range of features and updates, without increasing the cost burden on patients.