Researchers use cloud
technology to combat cancer
Cloud computing services provided over
grid technology are helping to treat cancer
patients in Europe where the disease is
region’s second biggest cause of morality.
Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases
to treat. There are dozens of therapeutic
protocols designed to respond to the vast
diversity of cases that confront doctors.
Radiotherapy has proven a particularly
effective treatment. Here a linear accelerator,
or Linacs, attacks the cancer directly
by delivering radiation from several directions.
But treatment is complex. The
direction, size and duration of dosages are
all tailored to each case, and must be recalculated
every time via simulation.
It is a phenomenally complicated
computation, requiring lengthy processing
time, so much so that it can mean delays
and this has the knock-on impact of
lowering the number of patients who can
be treated by each Linacs machine.
Faster diagnoses would help, but the
required computing power is expensive,
dramatically increasing the Linacs installation
and operation costs. It is a critical
But European researchers working
closely with industry appear to have found
The the BEinGRID project uses a cloud
computing solution for radiotherapy which
uses a computer grid. This type of infrastructure
can share out resources like processors,
storage, networking and software, wherever
they are and on whatever platform.
Grids can deliver on-demand hardware
and software, and because they are
combined into a super system, they offer
much more power at lower cost.
The individual elements of the system
are hidden in the cloud, invisible to the
user. The new RadiotherapyGrid delivers
two services: treatment plan verification
and search. The search function is optimised
to provide alternative treatment
plans based on the patient scan, treatment
prescriptions and other constraints.
Both services can run in the background.
The doctor simply enters the
details in a browser window, and is alerted
by email when the results are ready.
Security and Service Level Agreements
(SSLAs) are a particular focus of the
Grids excel at delivering these kinds of
benefits, because they ensure that
resources are used to the maximum of their
capacity. Security can be guaranteed
because the computers on the grid behave
like a single supercomputer.
Better and cheaper
The upshot is that doctors can call on enormous
computing resources without paying
the full costs. It offers better performance,
delivering faster results, and only when the
service is required. Hospitals do not have to
pay when the machines are idle.
Andrés Gómez Tato, a BEinGRID
Business Experiment manager from
CESGA, one of BEinGRID’s partner,
commented: “The system can also be
extended and adapted, to use new algorithms
when new techniques and protocols
The BEinGRID partners in the radiotherapy
application are now looking to
exploit the service commercially, and they
believe the market is very promising.
Initially, the RadiotherapyGrid will be
primarily marketed as a ‘software-as-aservice’
platform, but ultimately it may
also come with hardware.
Moreover, the RadiotherapyGrid
could be applied to other treatment
modalities, like the Image Guided
Radiotherapy (IGRT), hadrontherapy or
brachiatherapy. – ICT Results
of upload: 20th June 2010