A new whitepaper, commissioned by Lenovo & Intel, led by IDC, highlights key challenges and drivers transforming the healthcare landscape across Asia Pacific. Titled ‘Leveraging High-Performance Compute Infrastructure to Address the Genomic Data Challenge in Life Sciences’, the paper underlines humanity’s greatest challenges where genomics research-led intervention could impact significantly. A key highlight from the paper states that while the pandemic-led acceleration in innovation has given a boost to the Indian healthcare sector, genomics high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure that is key to drug/vaccine discovery & precision medicine, is still at a startup stage for nearly 57% of surveyed organizations in India. This trend is also seen across a few other APAC regions surveyed: Japan and Korea lead in having advanced (3+ years) infrastructure.
The survey was conducted across 150 pharmaceutical and biotech companies across five key markets in Asia – India, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, and Korea.
Genomics and Humanity’s Greatest Challenges:
When it comes to solving biggest challenges facing societies and mankind, 40% of decision makers in India are certain that genomics is fundamental to developing a precision medicine strategy to treat chronic illness, rare diseases, and lifestyle disorders. Unsurprisingly, 33% of the organizations surveyed across Asia Pacific mirror this drift, followed by 21% who believe genomics can improve development of drugs and vaccines which is also a priority for 20% organizations in India.
Distinctive aspects discovered in the white paper point to the expansive potential of genomics. One being able to impact hunger and malnutrition, which has been ranked as the second greatest challenge across 40% of decision makers. According to 30% of surveyed leaders in India, genomics could also be a game-changer in helping to improve the environment as climate change continues to be a serious cause of concern.
Commenting on this, Sinisa Nikolic, Director and Segment Leader, HPC & AI, AP, Lenovo ISG, said, “The volume and type of genomics data generated is unimaginable and to make accurate decisions based on this data requires huge computing power. This gets even more difficult with complex and unscalable solutions that were found to be cautious factors for 50% of organizations in India looking for genomics solutions.”
Increasing Genomic Workloads and Storage Capabilities:
The trend towards developing niche, high-value personalized health solutions is expected to boom as 83% of organizations in India anticipate their annual genomics workloads to grow more than 10% over the next two years. Similarly, for 80%, the annual spend on data storage and compute is likely to increase more than 10% in the two-years period.
Sumir Bhatia, President – AP, Lenovo ISG, said, “One size doesn’t fit all, whether at frontend healthcare delivery or backend IT infrastructure. To catchup with the ever-growing data, the required infrastructure setup can immensely add to the capital and operational expenditure. We expect this to be a critical challenge for organizations in India working to enhance their HPC infrastructure. This is where pay-as-you-go models like Lenovo TruScale become crucial so businesses of all sizes can scale up & down as required, and easily manage their operational expenditure to address humanity’s greatest challenges.”
The growing storage requirement predictions could add to the existing cost burdens for 33% of organizations who are currently spending more than $1M annually on data compute, storage, and maintenance & services. Even with the challenges around scalability, flexibility, and costs, nearly half (46.7%) of the respondents are not looking to acquire new solutions to transform their HPC landscape. Surprisingly, similar feedback was given by 50 percent of the leaders in Asia.
Recognizing IT Challenges and Accelerating Genomics Transformation with HPC:
With a growing focus on making precision medicine a reality, nearly 47% of decision-makers in India’s genomics industry feel that, with the high velocity at which genome data is generated, the lack of computing power to analyze it becomes the biggest infrastructural challenge for genome sequencing. Delving further into the challenges, 40% of the respondents ranked ‘multi-dimensionality of data’ as the second-big IT challenge.
Close to 97% of respondents in India are using high-performance workstations and nearly 23% also use laptops for data visualization. Interestingly, 46% are using 3D augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) solutions, indicating a growing shift toward immersive visualization techniques, complemented by deep learning to enable molecular modeling and simulations.
“A major challenge for researchers is the time taken to process a single genome. Fortunately, solutions like Lenovo Genomics Optimization and Scalability Tool (GOAST) reduce the time to process a single human genome from 150 hours to less than 48 minutes. This enables researchers to quickly map a cohort of people instead of spending time analyzing a single genome. HPC supports high-throughput volumes to accelerate the speed of analysis, whereas AI helps make sense of the difference between genomes. This is why we are seeing GOAST being preferred by nearly 37% of organizations in India and expecting it to grow tremendously over the next few years.” Sinisa Nikolic added.
In the entire context of genomics data, cyberthreats are a key challenge for only 3% of the organizations in India, while more than 80% feel strongly of their cybersecurity strategy indicating it as lowest amongst the hurdles.