CCMB Chose AWS To Accelerate The Growth of Genomics Research In India

AWS reduced time taken for genomics analysis by up to 98%, accelerating research efforts on the study of genetics and human diseases


The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) India Private Limited to accelerate its genomics research projects. AWS India made the disclosure on Friday at the Public Sector Symposium in New Delhi. This is the latest in a string of such alliances in India's public sectors of the healthcare, education, and space industries.

CCMB is a premier research organisation focused on modern molecular biology and population-scale genomics. Under Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), CCMB focuses on the study of genetic material, how it varies among populations, and how the variance leads to disparities in human health and disease.

Life sciences and genomics research organisations need to access, store, and analyse large amounts of data generated from next-generation high-throughput sequencers. The data-intensive nature of genomics research made storage accessible to manage datasets and store the raw data and the files generated from secondary and tertiary analysis. CCMB, using cloud computing, can seamlessly scale up its data storage and analysis needs.

An offline data transport service was used by the research centre to transfer up to 83 terabytes (TB) of genomics data from on-premises systems to AWS. It subsequently moved its bioinformatics data pipelines for secondary analysis and tools for genomic analysis to Amazon Genomics CLI, an open-source programme that enables genomics firms to analyse unprocessed genomic and biological data.

"At a time when genetics research is becoming critical for life sciences advancement, disease diagnosis, and drug development, we must innovate using technologies like cloud computing to achieve outcomes faster and better," said Dr Divya Tej Sowpati, a genomics scientist at the CSIR CCMB.

Running on AWS, CCMB performed short tandem repeat (STR) genotyping that determines a person’s DNA. Using AWS, CCMB was able to reduce the time taken for research analysis by up to 98%, from 550 days to just nine days on average.

In another project, CCMB analysed breast cancer samples to identify molecular signatures of triple-negative breast cancers among the Indian population. Using CPU and GPU-accelerated computing on AWS Cloud, CCMB reduced the analysis time per sample by 50 to 70%. It achieved an accuracy of more than 91%, reducing the time to train models from several days on their on-premise servers to approximately three to four hours per dataset on AWS.

The potential for research and development must be realised. "Understanding the genomic variation in India’s population is a government priority towards developing precision healthcare and diagnostics and delivering them at affordable costs. However, genomics research is data intensive, and the increasing volume and velocity of genomics data is a challenge for research institutions in managing both infrastructure and costs," said Pankaj Gupta, Leader, Public Sector (Government, Education, Healthcare), AWS India Private Limited. 


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