Big Data hits Eastern Europe as IBM fires up supercomputer

The spread of Big Data throughout the global life sciences industry continued this week, with two deals showing Eastern Europe is alert to the possibilities. In Poland, an IBM supercomputer is set to crunch chronic disease data, while Hungary-based ChemAxon extended a deal with Core Informatics.

First to Poland, where the country's largest supercomputer--IBM's Blue Gene/Q--was selected to support a consortium investigating chronic diseases. The Medical University of Warsaw-led project brings together three academic institutes and 7 research sites to investigate rare variants in human genetics. By using the supercomputer to understand the genetics behind the folding of proteins, the team of 500 Poland-based researchers think they can develop drugs that stop the process going wrong. Protein misfolding is linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Much of the funding for the project comes from the European Union, which stumped up the cash to build a biomedical hub in Central Europe and support Poland's transition to more preventive healthcare. And the research team has another lofty goal for the supercomputer. "We expect to increase the simulation speed which will bring us much closer to the era of "personalized medicine," when preventive approaches can be tailored to a specific condition," University of Warsaw professor Marek Niezgodka said.

The supercomputer underpinning these hopes--codenamed Nostromo--is already installed in Poland. IBM claims it can process up to 16TB of Big Data per one sequence. This power puts it at number 143 on the supercomputing Top500, while its energy efficiency sees it take the ninth spot on the Green500.

Over in Hungary, meanwhile, ChemAxon has renewed its relationship with data management specialist Core Informatics. The collaboration began in 2007 to tie ChemAxon's cheminformatics toolkit into Core Informatics' electronic lab notebook and laboratory information management system. Having the ChemAxon software built in allows users to handle compound registration, structure visualization and other functions from within the Core Informatics platform.

- here's the IBM release
- check out the ChemAxon news

Special Report: 10 Reasons Why Biotech Needs Big Data