OpenStack in genomics
and personalized medicine at Annai Systems

The current state-of-the-art in genomics requires researchers or clinicians to take samples, isolate the DNA or RNA and feed this material to analysis machines that give back what amounts to a series of jigsaw puzzle pieces that still need to be put into their appropriate places in the 3 billion base human genome. Now OpenStack is helping speed that up.

Annai Systems, based in Silicon Valley, helps its customers with secure, high-speed transfer of genomic data for reliable, protected exploration, access, and collaboration. Built on OpenStack, the Annai solution provides life-sciences “Data Management Platform as a Service” using a set of commercial and open source tools for life sciences and healthcare customers, leading to new applications for personalized medicine.

Where today a big clinical study might explore 100 genomes, the new Annai platform scales to allow the exploration of genomes spanning a cohort of 50,000 people. It also opens up cutting edge applications for personalized medicine. Annai CTO Dan Maltbie explains:

“Think of processing your DNA as an image creation process. When you want the human genome and all you care about is looking for relevant biomarkers – is it a mountain or an ocean? – low-resolution works. It’s good enough.To determine what drug or drug combination is going to treat your specific form of cancer requires a much higher resolution image. As a result, in order to represent your human genome – and in the worst case your tumor – in a side-by-side comparison, we’re talking about hundreds of gigabytes of data.”

Given the need to quickly pivot the infrastructure operating model as the fast-changing field of personalized medicine introduces new use cases, Annai turned to OpenStack, as it promised the innovation and flexibility required to develop such a platform. Mirantis provided the expertise in design and deployment of the OpenStack cloud for Annai.

Annai used Fuel, the open source OpenStack control plane pioneered by Mirantis to simplify and automate the OpenStack lifecycle with management, updates and patches. Mirantis also helped Annai Systems to create an OpenStack cluster using object storage to house the data on commodity hardware using open-source software, combined with Annai’s software for indexing. Using the open source Fuel control plane made it possible to deploy proven, pre-defined, highly-available cloud configurations, and iteratively tune deployment parameters.

“We are not short of things that we could do,” says Maltbie. “Developing IT infrastructure is not a good use of our investors’ money. Helping the community is. Teaching people how to do this themselves certainly is, because at the end of the day, where we want to be is in a situation where you can come to our portal, and say, ‘I have a theory. I believe that these particular biomarkers correlate with this particular outcome of a certain drug regimen in a certain class of patients. Tell me if I’m right.’”

Download the detailed case study of Annai Systems as well as from other Mirantis customers here.

 

 

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