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IBM and Quest forge precision cancer treatment partnership

Published on 18/10/16 at 09:47am

IBM has revealed it is to join forces with clinical laboratory service provider Quest Diagnostics in a bid to utilise its Watson technology platform to advance precision medicine in cancer treatment in the US.

The two companies come together to launch IBM Watson for Genomics, a service which combines the cognitive computing ability of the tech giant’s technology with Quest’s tumour analysis. Utilising laboratory sequencing, genomic tumour analysis and an ever-growing medical database, the service identifies significant mutations in tumours and compares them against the database to reach targeted diagnoses.

Watson for Genomics’ database grows by around 10,000 scientific articles and 100 clinical trials every month, and the service is also supported by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), giving access to its clinical database OncoKB. The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard also provide additional genome sequencing capabilities.

Quest provides its services to around 70% of care-providing oncologists in the US, and this new partnership brings the duo’s combined technology to half of the country’s physicians and hospitals.

"Precision medicine is changing the way we treat cancer and giving new hope to people living with the disease," commented Dr Jay G. Wohlgemuth, chief medical officer and senior vice president at Quest Diagnostics. "However, access to genomic sequencing and tumour analysis required to determine appropriate precision medicine treatments for a patient can be a challenge... This is a powerful combination that we believe it will leap frog conventional genomic services as a better approach for identifying targeted oncology treatments."

Matt Fellows

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