Cancer Tumor Genomics: Fighting the Big C with the Big D

It may have been true once that expertise in computer science was needed only by computer scientists. But Big Data has shown us that’s no longer the case. The war against cancer is increasingly moving into cyberspace, and it is entirely possible that we have the skill sets needed now to fight cancer.

The cost of turning pieces of DNA into digital information has dropped more than a hundredfold in the last three years.  Given such dramatic improvement, we could soon afford to sequence the genomes of the millions of cancer patients, which only billionaires could afford just a few years ago. To make personalized medicine affordable for everyone, we need to drive down the information processing costs.

AMP technology could help. The war needs new algorithms to find those needles in haystacks that could help cancer patients find effective therapies based on their genetics. To process genome data faster and more cheaply, the war needs new infrastructure to use many machines in the cloud simultaneously. And it needs to be able to engage the wisdom of the crowd when the problems of cancer genome discovery and diagnosis are beyond our algorithms and machines.

The Cancer Tumor Genome project has already had a breakthrough that creates full genomes by aligning reads from sequencing machines 10 to 100 times faster.

This project is guided by the following observation:

“Given that millions of people do have and will get cancer, if there is a chance that computer scientists may have the best skill set to fight cancer today, as moral people aren’t we obligated to try?”

To learn more, see this essay from the New York Times.