Watson supercomputer to help find best cancer treatment for patients

20 Mar 2014

Watson supercomputer image via Wikimedia Commons

IBM’s supercomputer Watson has been brought in to help oncologists discover better ways of tailoring personalised treatments for cancer by using DNA.

The New York Genome Center (NYGC), in partnership with the technology giant, aims to address the issue where clinicians lack the tools and time required to bring DNA-based treatment options to their patients.

To do so, they must correlate data from genome sequencing to reams of medical journals, new studies and clinical records – at a time when medical information is doubling every five years.

Watson is one of the most powerful computers of its kind in the world and can process 500 gigabytes, or the equivalent of a million books, per second.

With this in mind, Watson will be able to speed up the complex process of identifying patterns in genome sequencing and medical data to unlock insights that will help clinicians bring the promise of genomic medicine to their patients.

This combination of NYGC’s genomic and clinical expertise coupled with the power of IBM’s Watson system will enable further development and refinement of the Watson tool with the shared goal of helping medical professionals develop personalised cancer care. 

Robert Darnell, president and scientific director of the NYGC, has high hopes for the project.

“Applying the cognitive computing power of Watson is going to revolutionise genomics and accelerate the opportunity to improve outcomes for patients with deadly diseases by providing personalised treatment.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic