IBM’s Watson supercomputer is throwing its hat into the personalized medicine ring with a new string of partnerships with 14 leading cancer institutes.
Watson will analyze patients’ genetic profiles to generate personalized treatment options in just minutes — a process that normally would take physicians weeks to work out. The initiative is the latest endeavor in IBM’s broader Watson Health plan to improve health care.
Physicians will tap the supercomputer’s advanced cognitive abilities to translate DNA insights, understand a patient’s genetic profile, and gather information from relevant medical literature to generate a personalized treatment plan. The more Watson is used, the more its rationale and insights will continue to improve, enabling it to provide physicians with the latest combined wisdom from national leaders in oncology.
“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 trial information with personalized gene sequencing,” said Norman Sharpless, MD, director, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “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.”
The institutes involved will use Watson Genomic Analytics, a proprietary, cloud-based solution from IBM that looks for variations in the full human genome and examines data sources including treatment guidelines, research, clinical studies, journal articles, and patient health records to produce a report and data visualization of the patient’s case, including evidence-based insights on potential drugs. Physicians can use the generated information to decide if targeted therapy would be more effective than standard care. The initial phase of the program will see physicians apply Watson to the DNA data of patients fighting many types of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian, lung, breast, colorectal, and brain.
“This collaboration is about giving clinicians the ability to do for a broader population what is currently only available to a small number – identify personalized, precision cancer treatments,” said Steve Harvey, vice president, IBM Watson Health. “The technology that we’re applying to this challenge brings the power of cognitive computing to bear on one of the most urgent and pressing issues of our time – the fight against cancer – in a way that has never before been possible.”
Institutes participating in the first phase of the program are:
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- BC Cancer Agency
- City of Hope
- Cleveland Clinic
- Duke Cancer Institute
- Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska
- McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis
- New York Genome Center
- Sanford Health
- University of Kansas Cancer Center
- University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center
- University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine
- University of Washington Medical Center
- Yale Cancer Center