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MSKCC, IBM partner on decision support system
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


NEW YORK—A new partnership was announced this week, with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and IBM announcing that they would be collaborating to develop a powerful new tool based on IBM Watson to provide medical professionals with better access to current cancer data and practices. The decision support tool will aid in the creation of individualized diagnostic and treatment regimens for patients with cancer.
"The combination of transformational technologies found in Watson with our cancer analytics and decision-making process has the potential to revolutionize the accessibility of information for the treatment of cancer in communities across the country and around the world," Craig B. Thompson, president and CEO of MSKCC, said in a press release. "Consistent 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. We also expect tremendous new research opportunities to emerge from this collaboration."  
The IBM Watson system, best known for besting human contestants on Jeopardy, is capable of interpreting queries in natural language and searches millions of pages in seconds with statistical analysis and advanced analytics. Responses are evidence-based and statistically ranked, and MSKCC's oncologists will help to develop the system to synthesize patients' medical information, treatment guidelines and published research. MSKCC offers expansive clinical knowledge as well as molecular and genomic data and a large repository of cancer case histories. The end result will be an outcome- and evidence-based decision support system, one that can provide detailed diagnostic and treatment options for individual patients based on up-to-date research.
"Memorial Sloan-Kettering's evidence-based clinical approach, scientific acumen, and vast database make it the ideal partner in this ambitious project," Dr. Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM, said in a press release. "Cancer care is profoundly complex with continuous clinical and scientific advancements to consider. 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."  
The partnership fits well into the growing trend of personalized medicine, especially as more is discovered about the increasing complexity of cancer and cancer fatalities continue to rise. The disease is now the second most common cause of death in the United States next to heart disease, and approximately 1.6 million new cases are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States alone, according to the American Cancer Society. The companies have already begun working on the first applications for the new system, which will include breast, lung and prostate cancers, and aim to start piloting the solutions late this year, with wider distribution to take place late in 2013.  
"This comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace," Dr. Mark G. Kris, Chief of Thoracic Oncology Service at MSKCC, said in a press release. Kris is one of the clinicians heading up development efforts for the new system.
SOURCE: MSKCC press release
Code: E03221201



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