IBM Watson Health and Quest Diagnostics have joined forces to launch Watson for Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, a platform that combines genomic tumor sequencing with the computing prowess of Watson. This is the first time Watson for Genomics is made publicly available to physicians across the United States. The service will involve analysis of the genetic makeup of patient tumors to help locate and identify mutations that are associated with clinical trials and targeted therapies. Watson then takes this patient data and compares it with all the scientific literature and clinical trial data based on inputs provided by oncologists. This information can then be used by oncologists all over the country to make informed decisions about the treatment plans for these patients.
As we understand more about cancer, the more we come to realize that there are several different mutations involved in the process and each mutation responds to different medications with different intensities. High throughput analysis of the scientific literature will lead to easier identification of potentially successful therapies. What could take a group of oncologists days or months to identify potential treatments, may be narrowed down to a few hours because of Watson’s data crunching capabilities.
“The beauty of Watson is that it can be used to dramatically scale access to knowledge and scientific insight, whether a patient is being treated in an urban academic medical center or a rural community clinic,” said John Kelly III, PhD, senior vice president, IBM Research and Cognitive Solutions, in a press release. “Through this collaboration with the cancer community’s leading clinical and pathology experts, thousands of more patients can potentially benefit from the world’s growing body of knowledge about this disease.”
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) will contribute to this collaboration through their platform OncoKB, a precision oncology knowledge base that provides information on specific abnormalities in genes that lead to the growth of a tumor. Additional gene sequencing capabilities will also be provided by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. This partnership between multiple industrial and academic institutions will help urge in the next era of precision oncology that will treat each patient individually based on their specific disease conditions to increase success rates of cancer therapies.
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