Children's research centre boosts storage for DNA big data

New storage infrastructure means more patients will be able to benefit from next-generation DNA sequencing, according to Murdoch Childrens Research Institute associate director professor Andrew Sinclair.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor on

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) is powering up its data storage capabilities as it struggles to contain big data generated from next-generation DNA sequencing technology.

MCRI is one of the few medical research centres in the world that is working with the DNA sequencing technology. It allows for the sequencing of the entire human genome, and gives MCRI the ability to analyse those big data sets.

The institute began working on next-generation DNA sequencing back in 2010, to expedite diagnosis for various childhood development disorders.

"Sequencing one gene at a time was laborious and expensive — we also didn't know which genes to choose," MCRI associate director professor Andrew Sinclair told ZDNet in an email. "With next-generation sequencing, we can analyse all the genes in a patient in a single test, and come up with a rapid diagnosis in the majority of cases."

But with the new sequencing technology, there was added pressure on MCRI's data storage assets. The institute was keen to install a data storage system to house and manage big data, including for next-generation sequencing.

MCRI has contracted Thomas Dureya to first extend the centre's existing 117 terabyte storage capacity, and then construct an on-premises storage infrastructure platform to support the scaling out of the DNA sequencing technology at the institute. Thomas Dureya is working with EMC's storage technology, specifically the vendor's Isilon platform, to build the storage infrastructure.

Thomas Dureya will be involved with the design, installation, and configuration of the storage system. The rollout process will commence shortly, and will take several months to complete.

There are currently 60 patients being tested using next-generation DNA sequencing. According to professor Sinclair, once the new platform goes live, MCRI will be able to facilitate the testing of over 1,000 patients using the DNA sequencing technology annually.

"Children's health will be one of the first to benefit from the rollout of next-generation DNA sequencing, allowing for the early detection and diagnosis of genetic childhood conditions," he said. "However, I believe that genomic sequencing of patients will impact on all branches of medicine in the very near future."

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