Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will use IBM Watson's supercomputer to cull its rich database of clinical knowledge to help doctors treat cancer.
, the physician's
assistant, has another gig in cancer care. Big Blue and Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the world's oldest and largest cancer center,
have announced plans to use the Watson supercomputer to develop a
decision-support application for cancer treatment.
arrangement will combine Watson's computational and natural-language processing
abilities with the clinical knowledge of Sloan-Kettering, which has a database
of more than 1 million patients.
Sloan-Kettering, based in New York City, will use Watson to gather patient
information, treatment guidelines and published research in order to develop
personalized treatment options for cancer patients. As Sloan-Kettering provides
large volumes of clinical data and Watson performs its complex analysis,
doctors will be able to generate and evaluate hypotheses on evidence and
contestant on "Jeopardy," Watson can search millions of pages in
seconds, IBM reported. Watson uses natural-language processing (NLP) capabilities from Nuance
to interpret queries
from doctors. NLP takes data from unstructured documents, such as doctors'
notes, admittance records, research findings and journal articles, said Stephen
Gold, global strategist for IBM Watson Solutions.
presents data to physicians and researchers in the form of an evidence panel as
it dissects and answers questions as it did on "Jeopardy," Gold wrote
in an email to eWEEK.
The new tool's
interface will allow doctors to drill down to the details behind cancer case
histories and view the evidence that led to outcomes in those cases, Gold
In addition to
Watson, the decision-support system will incorporate molecular and genomic
data, as well as a database of Sloan-Kettering's de-identified cancer patient
data and patients' electronic health records (EHRs).
with our mission, the vision is to help better identify and personalize cancer
therapies for each individual patient, no matter where that patient may be
receiving care," Craig B. Thompson, Sloan-Kettering's president and CEO,
said in a statement.
with rapidly changing data is a challenge for oncologists and general
physicians, especially when they don't specialize in particular types of
cancer, IBM reported.
evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the
dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace, said Dr.
Mark Kris, chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Sloan-Kettering and one of
the clinicians leading the development of Watson at the cancer center.
care is profoundly complex, with continuous clinical and scientific
advancements to consider," Dr. Martin Kohn, IBM's chief medical scientist,
said in a statement. "This field of clinical information, given its
importance on both a human and economic level, is exactly the type of grand
challenge IBM Watson can help address."
On Sept. 12,
2011, IBM announced it would work with health insurer WellPoint to develop
health care applications using Watson. Then on Dec. 16, IBM said Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
in Los Angeles would advise WellPoint
on how to create applications using Watson to help doctors develop cancer
In late 2012,
oncologists at Sloan-Kettering will begin pilot projects using Watson to
develop treatment plans for breast, lung and prostate cancers, of which Sloan-Kettering's
oncologists are sub-specialists. The health organization will expand its
distribution of the technology in late 2013. Other areas could include wellness
care, cardiology and managing chronic conditions.
still the early days for Watson, but IBM is certainly hoping to advance Watson in other areas
," said IBM's Gold.