Roche seeks advances in cloud computing for cancer drug research

Swiss drug giant Roche ($RHHBY) has embarked on a massive internal project to sequence cancer genes, as the company works on advancing the next wave of oncology medicines that target the triggers of tumors. And the project has involved a sizable investment in information technology and will require advances in cloud computing to take it to the next level.

As Reuters reported last week, Roche, the world's biggest cancer drugmaker, forked over millions of euros for IT to support research that involves slicing and dicing "hundreds of terabytes of gene sequences." Those data grow from the drugmakers' own tests of how cancer cells in a lab dish respond to different pharma compounds. The company now aims data sets from external laboratories, and this is likely to require the support of new technologies in cloud computing.

"The scale of the problem means the solution will be on an international collaborative scale," Bryn Roberts, Roche's head of informatics in drug research and early development, told Reuters.

A pack of tech giants are angling to assist drug companies in housing and sharing large data sets from sequencing and other research activities. Some of the big names in cloud computing include Amazon Web Services ($AMZN), Google ($GOOG) and Microsoft ($MSFT), and all three of those companies have targeted pharma and life sciences outfits for their latest offerings.

"Pharma R&D will be working with other technology companies, like Microsoft, in developing new algorithms, methodologies and indeed even therapies themselves," said Les Jordan, chief technology strategist at Microsoft's Life Sciences unit, in an interview with Reuters.

- check out Reuters' article