MSKCC, IBM partner on decision support system

MSKCC and IBM announce a collaboration to develop a powerful new tool based on IBM Watson to provide medical professionals with better access to current cancer data and practices

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NEW YORK—A new partnership was announced this week, with theMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and IBM announcing that theywould be collaborating to develop a powerful new tool based on IBM Watson toprovide medical professionals with better access to current cancer data andpractices. The decision support tool will aid in the creation of individualizeddiagnostic and treatment regimens for patients with cancer.
"The combination of transformational technologies found inWatson with our cancer analytics and decision-making process has the potentialto revolutionize the accessibility of information for the treatment of cancerin communities across the country and around the world," Craig B. Thompson,president and CEO of MSKCC, said in a press release. "Consistent with ourmission, the vision is to help better identify and personalize cancer therapiesfor each individual patient, no matter where that patient may be receivingcare. We also expect tremendous new research opportunities to emerge from thiscollaboration."
The IBM Watson system, best known for besting humancontestants on Jeopardy, is capable of interpreting queries in natural languageand searches millions of pages in seconds with statistical analysis andadvanced analytics. Responses are evidence-based and statistically ranked, andMSKCC's oncologists will help to develop the system to synthesize patients'medical information, treatment guidelines and published research. MSKCC offersexpansive clinical knowledge as well as molecular and genomic data and a largerepository of cancer case histories. The end result will be an outcome- andevidence-based decision support system, one that can provide detaileddiagnostic and treatment options for individual patients based on up-to-dateresearch.
"Memorial Sloan-Kettering's evidence-based clinicalapproach, scientific acumen, and vast database make it the ideal partner inthis ambitious project," Dr. Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM, saidin a press release. "Cancer care is profoundly complex with continuous clinicaland scientific advancements to consider. This field of clinical information,given its importance on both a human and economic level, is exactly the type ofgrand challenge IBM Watson can help address."
The partnership fits well into the growing trend ofpersonalized medicine, especially as more is discovered about the increasingcomplexity of cancer and cancer fatalities continue to rise. The disease is nowthe second most common cause of death in the United States next to heartdisease, and approximately 1.6 million new cases are expected to be diagnosedthis year in the United States alone, according to the American Cancer Society.The companies have already begun working on the first applications for the newsystem, which will include breast, lung and prostate cancers, and aim to startpiloting the solutions late this year, with wider distribution to take placelate in 2013.
"This comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundlyenhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changingresearch at an unprecedented pace," Dr. Mark G. Kris, Chief of ThoracicOncology Service at MSKCC, said in a press release. Kris is one of theclinicians heading up development efforts for the new system. 
SOURCE: MSKCC press release

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