Dell today announced a major commitment of funding, employee engagement and cloud computing technology to support pediatric cancer research programs globally, including the world’s first personalized medicine trial for pediatric cancer conducted by the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) and supported by The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). TGen will use its genomic technology within Dell’s donated cloud to help NMTRC identify a greater depth of personalized treatment strategies for children with neuroblastoma who are enrolled in NMTRC’s clinical trial.
Dell is expanding its Powering the Possible program to focus on neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers because of the devastating nature of the disease and to address the void of new and innovative treatments available for children. Since the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one new treatment for any type of childhood cancer, compared with 50 approved treatments for adult cancers in the same time period. Through Powering the Possible, Dell is making a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment of funds and employee volunteerism to support innovative pediatric treatment programs globally.
“Trial and Error” treatment ineffective and time consuming
Neuroblastoma strikes one in 100,000 children annually, usually before the age of 5, and despite it being so rare, it is so deadly that it is responsible for one in seven pediatric cancer deaths. It attacks the sympathetic nervous system, which controls heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, with aggressive tumors that are unique to each child. In fact, it is the unique and aggressive nature of neuroblastoma tumors that render ineffective conventional approaches to developing a blockbuster, one-size-fits-all treatment to the disease. With little commercially or federally funded research underway because of its small patient base, parents and pediatric oncologists have relied largely on “trial and error” in their search for a treatment that will work from among the hundreds of available adult cancer trials.
Genomic guided treatment underway
To overcome these challenges, parents and physicians and scientists from the NMTRC, the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and TGen have teamed to launch the world’s first personalized medicine clinical trial investigation for pediatric cancer. The trial, funded primarily by parents of children with neuroblastoma and their foundations, is based on research from a group of collaborating investigators who are developing a personalized medicine process that is intended to permit near “real time” processing of information on patient tumors and prediction of best drugs for a specific patient.
This process generates more than 200 billion measurements per patient that must be analyzed, shared and stored. Unfortunately, the computation and analysis of this information can take weeks to months to process and the magnitude of this task has limited the depth and number of pediatric cancer patients who can be included in this groundbreaking clinical trial.
Dell-donated cloud gives TGen and NMTRC power to do more for pediatric cancer
Dell’s donated cloud solution will provide needed computing power to help increase TGen’s gene sequencing and analysis capacity by 1,200 percent1 and improve collaboration between the team of physicians, genetic researchers, pharmacists and computer scientists working on the trial. Specifically, scientists and physicians will use the donated cloud to investigate new technologies that accelerate genetic analysis and identification of targeted treatments for each patient from months to days. The additional computing power will also improve the availability of critical information and allow researchers to develop a real-time knowledge repository of the latest findings on the most effective treatments for oncologists to use globally. The researchers also intend to use the donated cloud to expand the program’s participation from a handful of children today to hundreds of children over the next three years, with the goal of establishing an information framework that, subject to regulatory approval, could one day help thousands of pediatric cancer patients. The new TGen cloud will also facilitate rapid transfer of information to international partners and lay the groundwork for expansion of the trial to additional types of childhood cancers in the future.
NMTRC Hospitals now enrolling patients
NMTRC is now enrolling patients in the first stages of this personalized medicine trial. Participating medical centers include:
- The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Levine Children’s Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.
- M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando, Fla.
- National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.
- SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St. Louis, Mo.
- Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics, Kansas City, Mo.
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, Conn.
- Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Ore.
- Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, Calif.
- The Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.