EMBARGO: First European firm adopts IBM Watson for cancer decisions

Digital and Social Media

IBM Watson Health has struck its first European deal for its Watson for Genomics platform, lending its tech to Spanish diagnostics lab Sistemas Genomicos to aid in cancer treatment decisions.

The deal will see the AI-driven solution fed into Sistemas Genomicos’ genomic analysis services, helping to create reports for doctors that indicate which cancer therapies will be most effective for each of their patients based on their genetic data.

In Spain, around 250,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year with many of the latest medications designed to treat tumours with specific genetic profiles.

Watson for Genomics takes each individual genomic profile in the context of data gathered from masses of clinical data sources and matches actionable genetic modifications to available therapies.

Where its advantage lies though is the speed at which it can produce these therapeutic options with little resource.

In a proof-of-concept study by researchers from the New York Genome Center, The Rockefeller University and IBM, Watson for Genomics provided entire genome sequencing data and clinically actionable insights within 10 minutes.

In comparison, the traditional technique it was compared to took around 160 hours of human analysis to produce similar conclusions.

“As genomic sequencing is increasingly accessible, some patients may benefit from specific treatments for mutations detected in certain tumours. However, this involves time and effort as it requires analysing a large volume of genomic data and medical literature,” said Juan Carlos Sánchez, Watson Health Industry Leader, IBM SPGI. “Watson for Genomics accelerates this analysis by providing, in just a few minutes, therapeutic options for the physician to consider that can help the oncologist in making the medical decision.”

Prior to its first European deal, Watson for Genomics has been particularly popular in the US. The platform was selected as part of Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative to help tackle cancer in veterans, whilst the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida became the first US hospital to adopt the technology earlier this year to help with cancer treatment decisions.

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Marco Ricci

11 September, 2017