How Hitachi is helping to revolutionize medicine in Sweden

By Cara Chaffey posted 10-09-2019 09:09


This blog is based on the live session at Hitachi Vantara Forum - check out the full session here.


Medicine is on the verge of one of its biggest-ever revolutions. In the not too distant future, physicians will be able to precisely pinpoint the very best treatment for our ailments. Instead of following the same clinical pathway for every patient, advances in genomics mean they’ll have the insight they need to understand which medicines will be the most effective for each individual, with the fewest side effects.

This ‘precision medicine’ promises to redefine how cancer and rare disease diagnostics is performed. Precision medicine depends on genome sequencing, or rather the data generated by genome sequencing. And at its heart lies unimaginably vast volumes of data – 80 gigabytes of data for every human genome to be precise.

The first scientists to sequence a human genome took 14 years and $3 billion to complete the task, and advances in technology mean we can now do it in just two days. However, with 10 million genomes sequenced at 80 gigabytes each, genomics is now the single largest source of big data.  

“We overtook astronomy a while back,” reveals Dr. Per Sikora, Head Bioinformatician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Chair of Informatics and Infrastructure at Genomics Medicine Sweden (GMS). “And we keep generating data. By 2025 we should be up to close to a billion sequenced genomes,” he continues.

Genomics Medicine Sweden is a collaborative project between a number of university hospitals aiming to modernize diagnostics with next-generation genome sequencing, and introduce more precision medicine across the country. To do that, it needs to aggregate data from a number of bodies and make it accessible to medics and researchers.

A national data lake for Sweden

To implement and co-ordinate precision medicine within the national healthcare system, new infrastructure was needed to allow the world-class diagnostics centre to analyse up to 60,000 patient samples each year. “We needed a national data lake to centralise data and support machine learning,” explains Dr. Sikora.

To securely store the data,  GMS implemented Hitachi Content Platform. “You can store an insane amount of data in HCP,” voices Dr. Sikora. “It also houses the metadata.” Storing the metadata in the same place allows anyone with access to the system to quickly and easily find the information they need, and GMS uses Hitachi Content Intelligence (HCI) to index the metadata.

Right now the distributed data lake has three sites (in Gothenburg, Borås, and Skövde) and will soon have a fourth in Trollhättan. GMS deposits data into the data lake, which biobanks in Sweden (responsible for managing samples, consent, and e-health records) can also access. SciLifeLabs, the national research platform, provides researchers with an entry point to the data.

Dr. Sikora sees the data lake as an important part of the future of healthcare in Sweden. It will not only harmonize healthcare across the country but also combine information about a patient’s genetic factors with information on lifestyle, historical treatment, microbiology and more. “We need to be able to take into account all of this data to provide the best care possible,” he adds. 

Incredible results with precision medicine

It’s amazing how much you can do with precision medicine, which is already being used to save the lives of patients today – including a young child with neuroblastoma, a paediatric cancer. After suffering an extreme reaction to the standard first treatment for the condition, the child’s entire genome was sequenced. This enabled the team to identify two rare genetic conditions that were preventing the treatment from working, and after switching to a new drug, he started to respond. Having spent six months in the ICU, he went into remission and back to preschool within a year.

“My hope is with GMS we can do this for everyone, not just a few cases here and there,” Dr. Sikora concludes.

To find out more about genome sequencing and how Hitachi Content Platform is helping GMS to manage the that will help it revolutionize healthcare in Sweden, check out the full webinar

Learn more about GMS visit -
To learn more about Hitachi  Vantara Forum across EMEA visit:




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