Rome 21 April 2021 11:40
The core of the project is the aggregation of health data at a national level (from laboratory data to the genetic profile of the individual patient) with the highest safety standards (cyber security and real-time active protection) for targeted public health interventions and precision medicine.
The newly-created infrastructure allows the clustering of patients’ profiles and the identification of targeted therapeutic indications through secure Cloud services, which are available to healthcare facilities throughout the country.
The infrastructure leverages Davinci-1’s cloud computing – Leonardo’s High Performing Computer (HPC) – and Dompé Pharmaceuticals’ Exscalate molecular library – the enabler of the European Commission’s programme for Urgent Computing, Exscalate4Cov.
Leonardo and Dompé Pharmaceuticals have signed an agreement for the construction of the first operational core of a national digital health security infrastructure with Cloud architecture.
The infrastructure uses the supercomputing (150 nodes for a power of 5 petaflops) and Cloud (with a power of 20 petabytes distributed over 1,500 hard drives) capabilities of Leonardo’s Davinci-1 HPC and Dompé's Exscalate molecular library (the project also benefits from a contribution by the Politecnico di Milano on the implementation of some functionalities, developed over time on Exscalate), with over 5 billion molecules synthesized digitally (polypharmacological profile) for complex simulations in the health sector. Exscalate is currently the leader of the public-private “urgent computing” project of the European Commission Exscalate4Cov created to identify the safest and most promising medications against Covid-19.
Currently, the digital health security infrastructure is enabling the Exscalate application to run in the Cloud, as a service, in order to allow the health network (Universities, Research Centres, Hospitals) a rapid and low-cost diagnosis tool.
Starting with epidemiological and health data (even non-homogeneous) such as laboratory data, medical records or from the genetic profiles of patients, it is possible to create clusters of patients for homogeneous classes for specific characteristics in response to certain medication, in the case of a disease, medication resistance, adverse reactions, repurposing of a medication for other therapeutic indications.
This allows accurate assessments of merit in enabling predications on the epidemiological evolution of specific diseases, which is an essential element in the event of a health emergency (epidemics) or biological safety events (presence of harmful contaminating substances). It also allows an accurate picture of health needs over time throughout the country, with the possibility of accurate planning for public health interventions.
The development of services in the Cloud provides healthcare facilities with the possibility of accessing very advanced and accurate digital solutions with basic IT tools (a PC or a tablet). It allows an accurate simulation of interaction between a medication and a specific biological entity or pathology; which can identify the onset of abnormal phenomena in patients, or improve the personalised therapeutic approach (precision medicine).
The combination of these features improves patient care times and enables the planning of health care interventions, with an optimal allocation of available resources.
The digital health security infrastructure implemented by Leonardo and Dompé allows data to be preserved with the most advanced security standards both in the cloud and during the network exchange phase. The security systems adopted make it possible to quickly identify and block potential malicious access attempts.
“This agreement strengthens Exscalate as a strategic platform in research and data processing not only in the management of the current pandemic but as a tool that can become permanent at the service of health in the European Union. Exscalate has also demonstrated the ability to aggregate various public and private entities in the field of scientific research and technological excellence at an international level”, said Andrea Beccari, Chief Scientist of Exscalate in Dompé Pharmaceuticals.
“The Davinci-1 supercomputer greatly enhances data processing capabilities and represents an extraordinary ‘knowledge accelerator’. The potential deriving from the computing capacity of Davinci-1 and the activities of the Leonardo Laboratory dedicated to the HPC (High Performance Computing) gives shape to a new path, which is aimed at exploring innovative and dynamic application scenarios. Particular attention is paid to data security”, underlines Carlo Cavazzoni, Head of Computational R&D, and Director of the HPC Lab at Leonardo.
In phase one, the first services are related to the evaluation of the efficacy of the medication and the possible side effects with respect to a pathology and a specific health profile (precision / personalised medicine); the identification of effective medications on a known biological target (repurposing) or unknown in the case of new viruses or bacteria (health emergency); and the identification of effective molecular profiles for orphan pathologies of care. In the area of national security, the infrastructure can guarantee the identification of an effective response quickly even in the event of biological attacks.
The second phase consists of the information collection system from healthcare facilities in the area (to be evaluated based on available sources and the active collaboration of institutions active in the field of research and the SSN – Servizio sanitario nazionale). This will help make predictions on the epidemiological impact of specific diseases in specific areas, develop personalised medicine and prevention measures, with significant savings for the national health system (e.g. intercepting outbreaks of diabetes before the acute phase).
Exscalate4Cov is a consortium that brings together 18 institutions and research centres in seven European countries. It uses one of the most powerful supercomputing and artificial intelligence platforms in the world, which is associated with the processing of biological data to verify the potential impact of known molecules on the genomic structure of the Coronavirus. The programme is supported by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union. To date, the activity of Exscalate4Cov has led to the identification of Raloxifene (a generic medication) as an effective molecule in the treatment of patients with mild symptoms of Covid. The molecule is already in a phase 3 clinical trial in Italy and coming soon in other European countries.