How Watson Is Helping Cancer Patients

DNA StrandPhysicians are increasingly able to sequence a cancer tumor and use the data to find a match with a treatment that can cure the patient. The problem is that the analysis can take weeks. IBM is deploying its Watson supercomputer technology to reduce the analysis to minutes. In collaboration with 14 cancer centers (and more to follow), IBM will put Watson into clinical practice with hundreds of patients by the end of 2015. The goal is to accelerate the promise of personalized medicine for cancer patients everywhere.

Watson can help clinicians quickly sift through this data and provide comprehensive insights on
cancer-causing mutations and how they might be treated by analyzing each mutation
and the available medical literature. Watson uses its cognitive (thinking) capabilities to look for variations in the full human genome and compares them to what it learned from absorbing vast amounts of information from treatment guidelines, research, clinical studies, journal articles and information about the patient.

Watson produces a report of the patient’s case, including recommendations and evidence-based insight on potential drugs that may be relevant to the patient’s unique DNA profile. The clinician can then evaluate the evidence to determine whether the recommended therapy may be more effective than standard care for the patient. The IBM solution, called Watson Genomic Analytics, will be used for patients who are battling all types of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian, brain, lung, breast, and colorectal cancer. The best part is Watson will continuously learn from each case and develop more and more accurate insights over time.

Read more about Watson, big data, and analytics in Health Attitude.


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