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MD Anderson Taps IBM Watson in Battle Against Cancer

October 22, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Not just a Jeopardy! winner, IBM’s Watson has now joined the battle against cancer. According to a recent announcement from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and IBM, the Houston, Texas-based medical center is using the IBM Watson cognitive computing system for its mission to eradicate cancer.

The two organizations will leverage Watson's computing power to help clinicians uncover insights from MD Anderson's patient and research databases. The technology is designed to integrate the knowledge of MD Anderson’s clinicians and researchers, and to advance the cancer center’s goal of treating patients with the most effective, safe and evidence-based standard of care available, officials say.

The American Cancer Society projects 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Within this global epidemic lies a lethal subset: leukemia, which causes nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in children and adolescents younger than 15 years, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Starting with the fight against leukemia, MD Anderson’s Oncology Expert Advisor will aim to help MD Anderson clinicians develop, observe, and fine-tune treatment plans for patients, while helping them recognize adverse events that may occur throughout the care continuum. The technology is also expected to be accessible to the cancer center’s network of clinicians through a computer interface or supported mobile devices.

 “One unique aspect of the MD Anderson Oncology Expert Advisor is that it will not solely rely on established cancer care pathways to recommend appropriate treatment options,”  Lynda Chin, M.D., professor and chair of genomic medicine and scientific director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science at MD Anderson, said in a statement. “The system was built with the understanding that what we know today will not be enough for many patients. Therefore, our cancer patients will be automatically matched to appropriate clinical trials by the Oncology Expert Advisor. Based on evidence as well as experiences, our physicians can offer our patients a better chance to battle their cancers by participating in clinical trials on novel therapies.”

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