Watson Health

Watson Brings the Promise of Precision Medicine to the Fight Against Cancer

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Today marks a very important milestone for our work in cancer with the launch of Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics. Helping doctors fighting cancer is a key part of our mission at IBM Watson Health, and it’s a challenge we’ve been helping the medical community tackle for nearly five years. But the overarching goal was always to do more.

To bring this technology from the research lab to the many individuals and their families fighting cancer. And now we are extending access to Watson’s capabilities at scale, bringing cognitive computing to a U.S. commercial offering in oncology with Quest Diagnostics.

Data is increasingly recognized one of the key opportunities and challenges of cancer. In precision medicine in particular, where treatment is tailored to the very DNA of the tumor, the growth of data and knowledge has brought tremendous breakthroughs over the past decade. But that same growth of knowledge and data has also created a barrier to access for too many patients. But the power of Watson is its ability to connect the dots across vast, disparate data. We believe with Watson we can help democratize access to knowledge, and in turn improve   patient care.

Our work in genomics has grown steadily in the last five years. What started in IBM’s research labs has grown into collaborations with leading cancer institutions globally. In June, we announced we were providing Watson for Genomics to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to scale access to precision medicine for veterans fighting cancer. This new service will bring Watson for Genomics from the research lab to the masses. Through a partnership with Quest Diagnostics, clinicians in the U.S. can now have access to Watson’s cognitive capabilities to help analyze and provide insights to their patients.

News reports around the world have reported on the promise of this technology. At UNC, Watson for Genomics is helping Dr. Ned Sharpless and his team cull through massive bodies of data to uncover potential targeted treatment options for their patients. They’ve found that in 30 percent of patient cases, Watson finds actionable therapeutic options that the molecular tumor board would have missed. And doctors in Tokyo recently provided effective treatment to a leukemia patient with the help of Watson for Genomics.

When we launched Watson Health we pledged to bring to the market solutions that would help give hope and improve lives through the power of cognitive computing. With today’s announcement we are delivering on that promise. From imaging to population health to life sciences, Watson Health is using the power of cognitive to touch all aspects of healthcare and deliver better, more personalized care.

Precision cancer treatment holds great promise, especially to patients for whom traditional treatment has failed. Yet access to precision medicine today is very limited. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the team that is taking its availability to the next level.

Watson Health is only at the beginning of its role to use innovation to change healthcare as we know it using data and cognitive. Today marks an incredibly important milestone with many more to come.

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