A disease-slaying DRAGEN
Uncovering the links between genetic differences and human disease is the future of medicine – one in which treatment is customized for the individual based on their genomic data. It’s a future where terminal diseases like cancer can be treated through immunotherapy and drugs that specifically target tumors, without the physical toll of radiation or chemotherapy. Thanks to Edico Genome, it’s a future that’s here today.
This fundamental change in health care is being ushered in by their innovative DRAGEN (Dynamic Read Analysis for Genomics) Platform. It’s a bio-IT processor designed for genomics, providing read analysis for medical researchers and clinicians with unprecedented speed, scale and accuracy. Avnet plays an important, behind-the-scenes role in deploying this life-saving technology.
First, it’s helpful to have a general understanding of how whole genome sequencing works.
Whole genome sequencing
The whole genome sequence of DNA from person to person is about 99 percent identical. It’s the remaining one percent that makes us individuals. It’s also the one percent that gives us clues which can signal a high propensity for cancer in one person, or Alzheimer’s in another, as many diseases have a genomic basis.
Today’s technology cannot yet sequence whole genomes; it involves massive amounts of data which requires it to be done in pieces. Putting these pieces back together is what DRAGEN does to determine the whole genome sequence.
“It’s like shredding 800 phone books, and then trying to piece each one together again,” explains Gavin Stone, VP of marketing at Edico Genome.
Gavin adds, “What used to take an entire room of servers and 30 hours can be done by a single server in 20 minutes using our accelerator card with DRAGEN.” In addition to the obvious time savings, often critical in clinical environments, DRAGEN drastically reduces the costs associated with genome sequence analysis.
In clinical environments, IT isn’t always a core competency. So easily getting DRAGEN up and running was an important objective for the Edico Genome team.
Plug in, push button
“Avnet has dramatically simplified how Edico Genome deploys DRAGEN to its customers. For us, the customer experience is key. We want them to have a ‘push-button’ experience – they get a server that’s pre-tested, pre-configured, pre-installed with everything. All our customer has to do is plug it in,” said Gavin.
He adds, “Avnet has added a great amount of value to what Edico Genome does, in that we’re able to offer a variety of server choices to our customers, depending on what their current computing infrastructure is. Avnet controls the inventory of DRAGEN cards. When we get an order, they get one of those servers in, install DRAGEN and preload all the necessary software and hardware before shipping it to our customer.”
The ability to do just that was one of the key factors that led Edico Genome to partner with us for product integration and fulfillment, remembers Avnet Account Manager Michael Nardozza.
“Our line card and the breadth of manufacturers we work with sealed the deal with Edico Genome. It’s because we have integration capabilities with all of the platforms Edico’s customers want, that we’re able to provide a plug-and-play experience for them,” said Michael.
Adds Gavin, “We have customers up and running the same day they take shipment, which is unheard of in the genomic space. They’re used to deployments that take six months or more.”
Avnet’s services go beyond integration and fulfillment and that enables Edico Genome to do more with less. Gavin explains, “Rather than us having to do it with our small in-house team, Avnet does all our fulfillment, testing and packaging, coordinating multiple suppliers and manufacturers. That enables us to run lean while still providing our customers with a seamless, easy user experience.”
Avnet also provides Edico Genome with system architecting and extended warranty services, as well as validation and testing services. Michael adds, “We handle the hardware so they can focus on what their IP is.”
Thanks to that IP and what it can do in the hands of Edico Genome’s customers, the future of medicine is now reality. DRAGEN is being used in clinical settings to screen for cancer with a simple blood draw and diagnose the disease much earlier than had been previously possible.
“With these new techniques, in 10 years cancer is going to become a managed disease and less like the epidemic it is. Within 10 years, everybody will be getting screened on a regular basis,” said Gavin.
It’s the kind of impact Michael takes pride in. He concludes, “They’re passionate about their product. They know they’re doing some good in the world and it’s cool to work with a company like that.”
“Each test that a physician orders, he has to wait for the result before he orders another one. The beautiful thing about the genome is, we can take on every genetic disease in one test. All 8,000 of them are under the microscope simultaneously.”
- Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, Guiness World Records® holder for fastest genetic diagnosis using DRAGEN