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Microsoft-powered High-Performance Computing Reduces Cancer Research Analysis Time By 95%

15 November, 2006 | Archived Post

~ sets local and international example for sample analysis ~

Sydney, November 15, 2006 - The Melbourne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR), a global not-for-profit organisation with a worldwide network of nine branches in seven countries dedicated to basic and clinical cancer research, is achieving 20 times faster computing speed for cancer research, thanks to a new supercomputing solution from Microsoft.

For researchers at the LICR's Joint Proteomics Service Facility (JPSF), the enhanced computing speed will accelerate research programmes aimed at identifying markers for early stages of colon cancer (or asymptomatic colon cancer). It is hoped that such information may one day be used to permit early intervention and improve treatment options.

LICR's migration from a symmetric multiprocessor computer system to a 16-node Dell computer cluster and Microsoft's Compute Cluster Server 2003 helps the JPSF match protein samples against a database of more than 2.5 million proteins in order to identify cell change that could lead to the development of colon tumours.

"Sample analysis has traditionally been a bottleneck for researchers with analysis of a single sample previously taking around 1.5 hours. Using Microsoft's Compute Cluster Server has reduced this time down to less than five minutes per sample, which has given us a huge boost," said Dr Robert Moritz, facility manager of the Joint Proteomics Service Facility at the Melbourne Branch of LICR.

In the three months of using Microsoft's Compute Cluster Server 2003, LICR has already experienced tangible results: the time taken to 'crunch' information has been reduced by more than a factor of ten when compared to older symmetrical multiprocessor systems, at a much reduced cost. The additional systems administration time on linking the additional nodes using CCS was negligible as all the administration is taken care of in the single interface.

"This represents a potentially large saving in IT staff time," said Dr Moritz. "Whether this is ten years to one year, or ten weeks to one week, if software can help in the early detection of cancer then it's a noble cause for innovation."

According to Mr Martin Gregory, Director of Server and Tools for Microsoft Australia, "High-performance computing technology holds great potential for expanding opportunities within engineering, exploration, and medical research, but until now it has been too expensive and too difficult for many people to use effectively. LICR is a great example of an organisation using the power of the technology with the potential to benefit others."

Dr Moritz has been appointed director of The Australian Proteomics Computational Facility which is being established with a $2 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council. This facility will feature a cluster of 130 servers housed at LICR that will be available to all researchers across Australia. It is anticipated that this unique facility will also be made available to researchers and academia in New Zealand, followed by countries in Asia.

Microsoft Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 is an integrated, standards-based compute clustering platform built on top of Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
The Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) is the largest international academic institute dedicated to understanding and controlling cancer. Headquartered in New York and with one Centre for Clinical Sciences and nine Branches in seven countries, the scientific network that is LICR quite literally spans the globe. LICR has developed an impressive portfolio of reagents, knowledge, expertise, and intellectual property, and has also assembled the personnel, facilities, and practices necessary to patent, clinically evaluate, license, and thus translate, the most promising aspects of its own laboratory research into cancer therapies.

For further information:
Jo Balfour or Alex Murphy
Howorth Communications
02 8281 3830
howorth@howorth.com.au

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