PathWest uses Microsoft Azure to improve transplant outcomes

Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts on 03 September 2020
PathWest uses Microsoft Azure to improve transplant outcomes
Microsoft

PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA in Western Australia is using Microsoft Azure high performance computing (HPC) to improve transplant outcomes. With software from BizData, the laboratory can quickly and securely analyse people’s immune systems to better identify compatible donors and recipients, and avoid organ rejection. 

A team of PathWest scientists developed a data pipeline to perform this analysis (called HLA genotyping) using the cloud-based platform. Microsoft says that using Azure HPC, the analysis “is now fully automated and the time to complete analysis is more than halved”. All data is encrypted and remains in Australia to maximise security and privacy. 

According to Dianne De Santis, senior scientist in the department of clinical immunology at PathWest, the newly automated pipeline has replaced many manual processes and dramatically accelerates the ability to HLA type more donors with a quicker turn-around time. 

PathWest also offers a round-the-clock service for deceased donor organ allocation. Once a match is found, transplants are performed at two Perth hospitals. De Santis says that the lab can now provide an HLA typing result of the donor organ at a resolution that has not been available before, in just four hours. 

“In some cases, the inability to identify the exact mismatches present between the donor and the recipient may increase the risk of rejection, which may outweigh the benefit of transplant,” she explained. 

Being able to analyse the deceased organ donor in this way provides an opportunity to consider patients for transplantation that may previously have missed out. 

“The ground-breaking work that Dr De Santis and the team at the PathWest Department of Clinical Immunology are performing holds enormous promise for organ transplantation worldwide,” said Nic Woods, Microsoft Australia chief medical officer. “Being able to dramatically reduce the ischemic time between the sample being collected and being fully analysed is hugely important to the viability of a transplant while the high-resolution analysis also increases the number of people who might now be considered for transplant.

“BizData’s platform, which is built entirely on Azure, automates the genetic analysis of almost 4,000 files or 250 gigabytes… which are then interpreted to provide a huge amount of information about the donors. This breakthrough has enormous implications not only for Western Australia but globally, and Microsoft is proud to be able to support this important work.”

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