Intel and NextBio seek Big Data upgrades in genomics

Another tech giant has joined the genomics revolution. Intel ($INTC), the world's largest maker of microprocessors, has joined forces with the genomic data analysis provider NextBio to improve Hadoop, a core open source software for Big Data applications such as slicing and dicing monstrous amounts of DNA data.

This genomics-focused effort makes sense because Hadoop--which has benefited from contributions from web heavyweights Google ($GOOG) and Yahoo ($YHOO)--wasn't created for any one specific industry. In life sciences, Hadoop has become an increasingly important technology for NextBio and other companies presented with the tricky task of rapidly analyzing and interpreting massive amounts of genomic and health data. And NextBio and Intel engineers plan to make improvements to the Hadoop stack that address Big Data requirements in genomics.

At NextBio, the company has already invested significant time and resources on software platforms that support Big Data analytics. Its private cloud-computing infrastructure operates with Hadoop-related algorithms in the MapReduce framework, and the Big Data analysis enables the company to help clients find biomarkers, support clinical trials design and understand drug profiles. The company has a growing list of users in research and pharma circles such as Stanford University, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Celgene ($CELG), Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Sanofi's ($SNY) Genzyme.

"Without the implementation of our algorithms in the MapReduce framework, operational expertise in HDFS, Hadoop, and HBase, and investments in building our secure cloud-based infrastructure, it would have been impossible for us to scale cost-effectively to handle this large-scale data," Satnam Alag, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at NextBio, said in a statement.

Intel is among a bevy of large tech companies to take an interest in life sciences and genomics specifically. News of the Intel-NextBio collaboration closely follows the announcement this month that Cloudera, whose software is built on Hadoop, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have begun work on applying Big Data technologies in genomics. Google Ventures, the Google-backed VC, last year was a lead investor in the DNA data analysis provider DNAnexus as Google deepens its presence in the genomics field.

- here's the release