Intel announced its Collaborative Cancer Cloud, a software initiative intended to help cancer researchers share genomes they’ve sequenced as well as medical images and clinical information.
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Intel’s move is the latest in a wave of tech-company efforts to capitalize on what some observers say is a coming age of personalized medicine. Healthcare providers envision an era in which doctors use data from genomics, wearable devices, medical records, and other sources to tailor their treatments for specific patients. Intel joins Apple, Box, IBM, Samsung, and several startups in a race to provide computing infrastructure to support that vision
The Collaborative Cancer Cloud’s selling points are security and privacy, Intel said. Strict technical and legal requirements govern the sharing of patient data among U.S. medical institutions, but few data centers or database programs comply with those requirements. Intel intends to change that. Intel plans to distribute its Cancer Cloud software, developed in partnership with Oregon Health and Science University, under an open source license, meaning that it’s free to share and modify. The software would be available in early 2016, the company said. Unlike other tech giants entering the health space, Intel doesn’t have a proprietary interest in software. However, Intel’s chips dominate the market for processing large amounts of data. Personalized medicine will require massive computing power, and the Collaborative Cancer Cloud is a bid to make sure Intel products supply that capability. Eric Dishman, Intel’s General Manager for Health and Life Sciences, said the project is personal: He has survived cancer more than once and says genomics saved his life. It can take 21 days to sequence a genome, which is too long for many patients to wait. Data centers outfitted to process such information would get the job done more quickly, he said.