IBM's Watson provides personalized treatment options

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is one of 11 leading U.S. cancer institutes that will use a new IBM program called Watson, which is designed to quickly translate patient DNA insights into personalized treatment options.

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, requiring 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.

“As part of our efforts to offer the best care to our patients, we developed an exciting partnership with IBM Watson Health to begin analyzing complex genetic information in order to better diagnose and treat patients with cancer,” said Andrew Godwin, KU Cancer Center deputy director and director of Molecular Oncology at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“Our goal is to ultimately exploit critical points of vulnerability in a patient’s tumor to personalize care and improve outcomes,” he added. “The data analysis solution provided by Watson Genomic Analytics is an important tool to help bridge the gap between knowledge of the thousands of genetic changes found in one’s tumor and clinical application.”

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