Supercomputer To Contribute To Cancer Genetics
March 20, 2014

IBM’s Watson To Help Treat Cancer Patients

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

IBM said this week that its Watson supercomputer that grew to fame on the TV game show Jeopardy is going to be used to help clinicians tailor treatments for cancer patients.

The company announced it will be teaming up with the New York Genome Center (NYGC) to help doctors develop treatments that are customized for cancer patients according to their genetic makeup.

NYGC will be using Watson’s ability to help oncologists develop more personalized care to patients with glioblastoma, which is an aggressive malignant brain cancer. This cancer kills more than 13,000 people in the US each year, and clinicians lack the tools to bring DNA-based treatment options for their patients.

The Watson collaboration will help identify patterns in the genome sequencing and medical data to allow clinicians to bring genomic medicine to their patients. IBM said that this collaboration will enable further development and refinement of the Watson tool with the shared goal of helping medical professionals develop personalized cancer care.

“Since the human genome was first mapped more than a decade ago, we’ve made tremendous progress in understanding the genetic drivers of disease. The real challenge before us is how to make sense of massive quantities of genetic data and translate that information into better treatments for patients,” Robert Darnell, M.D., Ph.D., CEO, President and Scientific Director of the NYGC, said in a statement. “Applying the cognitive computing power of Watson is going to revolutionize genomics and accelerate the opportunity to improve outcomes for patients with deadly diseases by providing personalized treatment.”

Watson will provide information to enable clinicians to consider a variety of treatment options that the clinician can tailor to their patient’s genetic mutations. The supercomputer will also be helping NYGC scientists to understand the data involving gene sequence variations between normal and cancerous biopsies of brain tumors.

“With this knowledge, doctors will be able to attack cancer and other devastating diseases with treatments that are tailored to the patient’s and disease’s own DNA profiles. If successful, this will be a major transformation that will help improve the lives of millions of patients around the world,” Dr. John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research, said in a statement.