NuTec/IBM Information System Tailors Cancer Treatment

Researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University are teaming with NuTec Sciences and IBM to develop an integrated information system that will enable physicians to tailor cancer treatments based on a patient's specific genetic makeup. The system is designed for use directly by physicians to provide timely information to support day-to-day treatment decisions of cancer patients. When fully deployed later this year, the system will pinpoint genes and gene combinations that cause cancer in individual patients, as well as highlight genetic risk factors that would suggest the need for early screenings of cancer.

The system will eliminate much of the guesswork involved with prescribing cancer treatments that today are often ineffective or lead to harmful side effects. Determining the genetic "fingerprint" of a patient's cancer will allow physicians to select the specific treatment that has been proven most effective against similar tumors.

"Armed with genomic information and the computational power of the NuTec/IBM system, we can identify, with exact precision and speed, new drug targets to treat individual patients' tumors," said Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, director, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University. "The ability to quickly get complex target analyses for tens of thousands of genes, as well as clinical data, in the same timeframe that it takes to get CT scans today is a monumental step in personalized medicine for cancer."

Another significant benefit of the system will be the ability for pharmaceutical companies to load clinical trials with patients who have been identified with the genetically-specific cancers for which their drugs are being tested, greatly decreasing the time it takes to bring those drugs to market.

The new GenesysSI (Seamless Informatics) system will combine NuTec Sciences software for searching and analyzing gene expression and the gene combinations behind complex and often fatal diseases with the processing power of IBM's supercomputer. NuTec Sciences' supercluster of 1,250 IBM eServer systems has a processing capacity of 7.5 trillion calculations a second.

IBM disk storage systems and software for Web application serving, information portals, data management and data integration will augment the system -- enabling NuTec to transmit timely results to doctors, who can then consult with their patients using desktop and handheld computers.

Emory expects the system will be fully operational by the end of 2001. Emory researchers are focused initially on the four most common forms of cancer -- breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers. Hospitals around the country will be able to subscribe to the GenesysSI system on an annual basis.

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