Intel is collaborating with the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to develop a cloud-computing platform tailored for cancer research.

The collaboration initially began in 2013 when Intel was helping OHSU build a research data centre using Intel-powered supercomputing technology that university researchers could access and use to study the genomic profile of tumours.

According to Intel, the new platform, referred to as the Collaborative Cancer Cloud (CCC), is a precision medicine analytics platform that will allow hospitals and research institutions to securely access and share patient genomic, imaging and clinical data.

“It will enable large amounts of data from sites all around the world to be analysed in a distributed way, while preserving the privacy and security of that patient data at each site,” said Intel Fellow and General Manager, Health and Life Sciences Group, Intel, Eric Dishman in a blog.

Intel believes its cancer cloud is different from other research projects because of its emphasis on letting healthcare partners share data with each other in a secure manner. “The CCC is secure enough that multiple organisations should be able to access it without fear that something could go wrong, “said Senior Vice President and General Manager for Intel’s data centre group, Diane M. Bryant.

Intel announced that key technology components of the CCC will be open source, and the first technology releases will be made available to the developer community in early 2016.

“We intend to deliver open source code contributions to ensure the broadest developer base possible is working on delivering interoperable solutions. Open sourcing this code will drive both interoperability across different clouds, and allow analytics across a broader set of data – resulting in better insights for personalised care,” said Dishman.

Early next year two other large cancer institutions are expected to join the initiative to extend the CCC’s capability. Eventually, Intel and OHSU hope to expand the cloud platform to handle other types of medical research that has a genetic component, like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and Autism.

“The end goal is to empower researchers and doctors to help patients receive a diagnosis based on their genome and potentially arm clinicians with the data needed for a targeted treatment plan. By 2020, we envision this happening in 24 hours. The focus is to help cancer centres worldwide—and eventually centres for other diseases—securely share their private clinical and research data with one another to generate larger datasets to benefit research and inform the specific treatment of their individual patients,” said Dishman.

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