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BC Cancer Agency joins Watson Health project

IBM WatsonNEW YORK CITY – IBM Watson Health announced it is collaborating with 11 leading cancer institutes to apply Watson to quickly translate DNA insights into personalized treatment options for patients. One of the institutes – the BC Cancer Agency – is Canadian.

The collaboration will put Watson into clinical practice with hundreds of patients by the end of 2015, and will accelerate the promise of personalized medicine for cancer patients everywhere.

British Columbia Cancer Agency, City of Hope, Duke Cancer Institute, New York Genome Center, Sanford Health, University of Kansas Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center, and Yale Cancer Center are among the first to participate in the project.

As participating institutions use Watson to identify and treat cancer-causing mutations, Watson’s rationale and insights will continually improve, providing the latest combined wisdom of the world’s leading cancer institutes for oncologists.

Most of the 1.6 million Americans who are diagnosed with cancer each year receive standard surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Yet when standard treatment fails and as genetic sequencing becomes increasingly accessible and affordable, some patients are beginning to benefit from treatments that target their specific cancer-causing genetic mutations.

A single patient’s genome represents more than 100 gigabytes of data and the genomic process requires clinicians to sift through a deluge of DNA data alongside electronic medical records, journal studies, and clinical trial information.

Watson can help clinicians quickly sift through this data and provide comprehensive insights on cancer-causing mutations and how they might be treated. It typically takes weeks for clinicians to analyze each mutation and the available medical literature to identify tailored treatment options for a patient.

Watson completes the process in only a few minutes, producing a report and data visualization of the patient’s case, including recommendations and evidence-based insight on potential drugs that may be relevant to an individual patient’s unique DNA profile. The clinician can then evaluate the evidence to determine whether a targeted therapy may be more effective than standard care for the patient.

In the initial phase of the program, participating organizations will apply Watson to the DNA data of patients who are battling all types of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian, brain, lung, breast and colorectal cancer. Watson will continuously learn, thereby providing more and more accurate insights over time.

“Watson will help our partners deliver personalized cancer care using the latest advances in science by integrating complex and disparate data in a cognitive system,” said Steve Harvey, vice president, IBM Watson Health. “In working with this broad network of top cancer institutes and their scientific datasets, IBM will help medical professionals accelerate the discovery of a wider range of patient treatments that are specifically targeted to individual genetic alterations. Ultimately, our goal is to create a solution that any oncologist in any location can use to deliver personalized treatment options to their patients.”

The new program builds on IBM Research advancements in analytics and existing Watson partnerships to develop a genome data analysis solution for clinicians. Partners involved in the program will use Watson Genomic Analytics, a new solution specifically designed for genomic analysis.

Watson Genomic Analytics is a cloud-based service for evidence gathering and analysis. It looks for variations in the full human genome and uses Watson’s cognitive capabilities to examine all available data sources such as treatment guidelines, research, clinical studies, journal articles and patient information.

The solution then provides a list of potential drug treatment options for the patient’s doctor to review alongside underlying evidence to make more informed and accurate treatment decisions. Watson Genomic Analytics constantly gets smarter, as the system learns from patient treatments and outcomes.

Additional cancer centers are expected to join the program later in the year.

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1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    December 19, 2016

    I phoned BC cancer agency and they do not have access to Watson. Where can a patient use Watson if living in BC??

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