IBM, Quest Diagnostics Launch Watson for Genomics Service

IBM, Quest Diagnostics Launch Watson for Genomics Service
IBM’s Watson Health unit and Quest Diagnostics have teamed up to deliver the first commercial offering from Watson for Genomics—IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics.

The new IBM Watson for Genomics service is aimed at helping oncologists generate more individualized plans and deliver more personal cancer treatment for patients based on genomic sequencing.

The service combines the cognitive computing power of IBM’s Watson with genomic sequencing from Quest. Quest Diagnostics serves a broad base of doctors and hospitals that provide an estimated 70 percent of cancer care in the United States, IBM said. IBM said to use the service, a doctor would send a tissue sample to Quest for the company to sequence the tumor DNA and feed the genetic data into Watson for analysis. Watson then pores through millions of research papers, drug data, clinical trials and other data to search for treatment options.

Watson for Genomics ingests approximately 10,000 scientific articles and 100 new clinical trials every month.Moreover, IBM noted that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) will supplement the Watson cancer data trove with OncoKB, a precision oncology knowledge base to help provide precision treatment options for cancer patients.”Leveraging genomic data for ‘precision medicine’ has long been a dream for oncologists and other physicians but there are numerous stumbling blocks,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

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“First and foremost is the sheer volume of existing treatment information and data coming from various studies and trials. Plus, those information resources continue to accumulate and grow massively, swamping efforts designed to wrest insights from those assets.” The Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard will provide additional genome sequencing capabilities as part of the collaboration, IBM said. “Precision medicine is changing the way we treat cancer and giving new hope to people living with the disease,” said Dr. Jay G. Wohlgemuth, chief medical officer and senior vice president of research, development and medical at Quest Diagnostics, in a statement. “However, access to genomic sequencing and tumor analysis required to determine appropriate precision medicine treatments for a patient can be a challenge.

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