NantHealth Introduces Supercomputer for Cancer Genome Analysis

NantHealth has collaborated with AT&T, HP, Intel and Verizon on a supercomputer to reduce the time required to analyze the genomic data of cancer patients.

Health IT company NantHealth has introduced a supercomputing platform that it says can reduce the time required to analyze genomic data of a cancer patient from eight weeks to 47 seconds.

NantHealth is a division of NantWorks, which develops voice-recognition ultra-low power semiconductors, supercomputers and advanced networks for the health, commerce and entertainment industries.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, chairman of NantHealth and NantWorks, announced the development on Oct. 3 in Washington along with Sen. Bill Frist, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, of the Institute of Medicine.

Doctors have been unable to use genomic sequencing to guide cancer treatment because they've been unable to analyze a patient's DNA to acquire useful information in "actionable time," according to NantHealth.

While building the supercomputer-based high-speed fiber network, NantWorks collaborated with AT&T, Bank of America, Blue Shield of California, the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, Doctors Helping Doctors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and the National LambdaRail, which is a 12,000-mile, nationwide optical network infrastructure used by more than 280 universities as well as U.S. government laboratories.

"It currently takes approximately two months and tens of thousands of dollars to perform the sequencing and analysis of a single cancer patient's genome," Soon-Shiong said in a statement. "We can't reduce the cost of care and improve outcomes in cancer if we don't have the capability to know the right treatment for the right patient before treatment begins."

The fiber network will provide thousands of oncology practices with information to save cancer patients' lives in a shorter span of time, according to NantHealth.

"We needed a national supercomputing infrastructure that brings genomic medicine into clinical practice," said Soon-Shiong. "By placing supercomputers in the hands of physicians, that need is now a reality."

Using a decision support application from Eviti, NantHealth that has been able to reduce incorrect health recommendations from 32 percent to zero, the company reported.

"With this patient-centered, fact-based approach to collecting and analyzing data, millions more patients will have a better chance of beating cancer," said Soon-Shiong.

For NantWorks' research, the company collected 96,512GB of data on 3,022 cancer patients. It then transferred and processed the data over its supercomputing, high-speed fiber network in 69 hours, the company reported.

The supercomputer will be able to analyze 5,000 patients a day, according to NantHealth.

In the United States, 1.8 million new cancer cases were reported so far in 2012, the company said.

One problem in the medical field is that information gets trapped in silos and doctors are unable to see patterns in the data, Soon-Shiong noted.

Supercomputing technology and wireless mobile health will be able to connect more than 8,000 practicing oncologists and nurses, according to NantHealth.

The City of Hope nationwide cancer treatment organization, John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., and Methodist Hospital in Houston have contributed genomic data for the supercomputing platform.

In addition, on Oct. 2 NantHealth announced it is collaborating with Blue Shield of California to develop an advanced technology system for California so that doctors, hospitals and health plans can better coordinate and personalize health outcomes.

As part of the project, a continuous learning center at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., will allow doctors to monitor patients' chronic conditions wirelessly in real time using supercomputing, high-speed secure-fiber networks and genomic data systems.

The genomic data will allow doctors to practice personalized medicine and get a full view of a patient's health situation.

"Rather than waiting until people fall ill and have to be hospitalized, the NantHealth approach is to monitor patients with chronic conditions, in their homes or wherever they may be, and intervene as necessary before they become seriously ill," said Soon-Shiong.

NantHealth and Blue Shield will form an accountable care organization, as outlined under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to coordinate care with the Saint John's Health Center and Access Medical Group.