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IBM Watson to find out why cancer becomes drug registant

The $50m research project will use Watson’s computational and machine learning.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Watson Health has partnered with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for a research initiative to find the root cause of cancer drug resistance.

The $50m project will study thousands of drug resistant tumors over a period of five years.

The project researchers will be assisted with Watson’s computational and machine learning methods to assess how cancers become resistant to therapies.

Watson, powered by IBM POWER7, is a work-load optimized system that can answer questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge.

According to American Cancer Society, the development of drug resistance is a major cause of nearly 600,000 annual cancer deaths in the US alone.

Broad Institute founding director Eric Lander said: “Knowing how cancers can become resistant will ultimately require learning from hundreds of thousands of patients’ experiences. We’re proud to work with IBM to make an important start toward this goal, and to make the information broadly available to the scientific community.”

Broad Institute will produce tumor genome sequence data from patients to help in understanding how cancers turn resistant to specific therapies.

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The institute will use new genome-editing methods to carry out large-scale cancer drug resistance studies in the laboratory.

To analyse the data and identify genomic patterns, scientists at IBM will use Watson.

The finding could be helpful for researchers and clinicians predict drug sensitivity and resistance.

IBM Research and Cognitive Solutions senior vice president John Kelly III said: “Watson is already being used in the clinic to aid clinicians in cancer care. Our hope is that this effort, if successful, could eventually lead to significant breakthroughs. Someday, patients who would not otherwise have options in their battle against cancer may have reason for hope.”

IBM said that collaboration with the Broad Institute will offer Watson for Genomics to assist research in tackling the challenges and opportunities of cancer genomics.

Earlier this month, Celgene Corporation partnered with IBM Watson Health  to co-develop a new offering IBM Watson for Patient Safety.

The offering aims at improving pharmacovigilance methods used to collect, assess, monitor, and report adverse drug reactions.

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