Collin Arocho
25 April 2019

Imec has announced a breakthrough on genomic research. The Leuven-based research center, together with the University Hospital of Leuven (UZ Leuven), KU Leuven, Ghent University, Agilent, Western Digital and Bluebee, unveiled the Genome Analytics Platform (GAP). According to Imec, the GAP is able to fully analyze 48 genome samples, all within 48 hours. Moreover, they claim to achieve this in a cost-effective manner – close to 1,000 dollars per genome sequencing.

Beginning of 2000, when the first human genome was published, the scientific community agreed that they, together with the industry, had to set a goal – the ‘1,000-dollar genome’. They believed that when it would only cost 1,000 dollars, it would become feasible to sequence the genome of every patient that needed it for better, personalized treatment.

DNA_web

However, just cost-efficient sequencing is not the whole answer to realizing personalized medicine. Turning the raw sequencing data into useful information requires a lot of compute and storage power. Previously, the analysis and storage of the genome data had been too expensive and could take up to several weeks.

The GAP consists of a combined compute cluster and cloud storage system from Western Digital, which runs the heavily optimized genomics software platform from Bluebee and which can also tap into the cloud as needed. This solution can process the full output of a sequencing machine (48 genomes) within 48 hours – the same time it takes the sequencing machine to produce the raw genome data – which helps to bring the costs down.

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Going forward, the goal is to implement the new platform for daily use at hospitals, enabling the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases, including newborns with complex disorders. Agilent has already integrated the solution into a first product, which is being tested by UZ Leuven and KU Leuven’s Human Genetics Group to better treat patients.