IBM's Watson Health to collab with 14 major oncology centers on cancer genomics
- Tech giant IBM's new Watson Health division (which centers around the supercomputer Watson, famous for defeating its human opponents on the game show Jeopardy!) announced on Tuesday collaborations with 14 major cancer institutes in a sweeping cancer genomics push.
- According to IBM, the collaborations will "accelerate the promise of personalized medicine for cancer patients everywhere" by allowing clinicians around the country to use the supercomputer's analytics technology on a broad swath of cancer patients. The hope is to identify genetic abnormalities that cause cancers and to eventually tailor personalized therapies to patients by using Watson's analytical and progressive learning capabilities to recommend the proper drugs.
- The clinics partnering with Watson Health include: the Cleveland Clinic; Duke Cancer Institute; the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska; the New York Genome Center; University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine; and the Yale Cancer Center.
News of the big-name collabs comes on the heels of the fledgling Watson Health unit's announcement in April that it would be extending its partnership with Apple and striking new collaborations with pharma and medical device manufacturing giants Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.
The cancer genomics project is the most sweeping of its kind, and if successful, could help improve existing human-run "tumor boards" that analyze genetic cancer mutations in an effort to identify what the proper therapies are for individual patients. Watson's super-processing power could take a lot of the guess work and uncertainty out of that process, according to Forbes.
"Determining the right drug combination for an advanced cancer patient is alarmingly difficult, requiring a complex analysis of different sources of Big Data that integrates rapidly emerging clinical trials information with personalized gene sequencing," said Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a statement. "We are partnering with IBM in an effort to solve this decision problem with the help of cognitive technology and to improve the decisions we make with our patients to maximize their chance for cure."