Researchers Use International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) Power Systems To Gather Genome of West Nile Mosquito

A group of experts from The Center for Genome Architecture (TC4GA) at Baylor College of Medicine have applied International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), technologies Mellanox and NVIDIA to collect the 1.2 billion letter genome of the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito, which transmits the West Nile virus.

Genome has enabled scientists to come up with better methods on how to combat West Nile virus. It works by recognizing vulnerabilities in the mosquito that the virus applies to multiply. The highly performed computing (HPC) system dubbed “VOLTRON,” is founded on the IBM Power Systems platform.

It offers scalable HPC capabilities essential to hold a broad spectrum of data-enabled research actions. Baylor College of Medicine has led the supercomputing agencies globally – the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore National Labs and the U.K. government’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre – that lately preferred IBM’s Power Systems platform for cutting-edge HPC research.

VOLTRON’s 3D assembly is shifting in a way that scientists can sequence genomes, by using DNA folding patterns to outline the genome as it crisscrosses the nucleus. The resultant methodology is quicker and costs less. For instance, while the normal Human Genome Project took ten years and costed $4 billion, the new 3D assembly creates a comparable genome sequence in a few weeks and for less than $10,000.

These efforts should be acted upon urgently when they are required to combat disease outbreaks, such as the West Nile virus. Olga Dudchenko, a postdoctoral fellow at TC4GA at Baylor College of Medicine says, “Taking advantage of IBM POWER8 and Mellanox InfiniBand interconnect, we are now able to change the way we assemble a genome.”

Erez Lieberman Aiden, Director of TC4GA added that, “3D assembly and IBM technology are a terrific combination: one requires extraordinary computational firepower, which the other provides.”

Dudchenko said that, while TC4GA originally created Voltron to sequence the human genome, the method can be applied to a dizzying array of species. This gives them a chance to investigate mosquitoes, which carry diseases that impact many people around the globe especially the third world countries.

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Jon Slotnick

Jon Slotnick

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