Speaking yesterday at the 2014 Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit, IBM chairman Ginni Rometty announced new marching orders regarding the Watson Analytics cognitive computing platform that’s helping doctors uncover the patterns that cause cancer as well as unveiling new cancer treatment options for their patients. Watson should ultimately allow far more patients and doctors to access care options that are specifically tailored to their cancers’ DNA.
The announcement is the result of two years’ worth of conversations, and comes one day after the Clinic and IBM presented an update on their ongoing Watson projects involving the electronic medical record and medical student education. The program is expected to launch “early next year,” a spokesman says.
“The potential for leveraging the capabilities of Watson’s cognitive computing engine in personalized medicine could not be timelier,” Dr. Charis Eng, chairman and founding director of the Lerner Research Institute’s Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement. “Clinicians will benefit from the knowledge and insight provided by Watson in the care of their patients.”
Watson Genomics Analytics, mostly referred to as Watson, it’s a cloud computing service that will search for the kinds of genetic patterns that might help clinicians develop DNA, based treatment options for patients. It will then compare patients’ healthy DNA to their tumors’ DNA, then catalog the difference, known as a “mutation file.”
“Cancer is a disease of the DNA within a cell,” Steve Harvey, a vice president with the IBM Watson Group, said in a statement. “The process of administering personalized DNA based medicine involves pinpointing the DNA issues that are causing the cancer, and then finding specific drugs that are known to treat the alterations.”
“Together we aim to advance a new era of cognitive computing that will aide in the acceleration of new discoveries and bring forward new breakthroughs in personalized medicine,” said Rob Merkel, IBM Watson Group Healthcare leader.
The latest Clinic-IBM Watson collaboration is not the first to be applied to genomic research. Earlier this year, the Washington Post wrote about a similar collaboration between IBM Watson Group and the New York Genome Center in New York City to work on a new computer prototype that could suggest treatment options for patients with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancerous brain tumor.
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