IBM Watson, NY Genome Center partner for artificial intelligence-powered cancer research repository

Usefully integrating genomic data into actual treatment of patients remains a huge stumbling block in what's expected to be the age of precision medicine. That's particularly true in cancer treatment, where a particular patient's tumors can each have their own complex genomics that relate to the treatment strategy as a whole.

IBM Watson Health ($IBM) and the New York Genome Center are collaborating to analyze genomic cancer tumor data that will be integrated into patient medical records and, ultimately, used to guide treatment strategies. The company will work with the center's researchers and collaborators to sequence and analyze DNA and RNA from patients' tumors and integrate that data back into patient medical records.

Watson's artificial intelligence capabilities will be applied to all this sequencing and clinical data to help enable the review and analysis of all this data to help identify the best existing drugs to target a particular patient's cancer-causing mutations.

"Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable resources in the fight against cancer," said SVP of cognitive solutions and IBM research John Kelly in a statement. "By amassing this contributed data and applying cognitive insights to the challenge of analyzing cancer data, we believe we can soon scale access to precision medicine worldwide."

The first phase of the project will involve examining the genetic information from 200 cancer patients to compare how the different types of sequencing play role in determining the best treatment options. It will examine whole genome and whole exome sequencing, as well as several clinical genomic panels that are already in use. The data will be analyzed via Watson to guide physician treatment decisions.

The partners expect to expand their collaboration with funding from additional partners to grow the data repository and aid in its adoption. All contributed data will be de-identified and held in a HIPAA compliant repository.

"Our vision is to create a comprehensive cancer data repository that combines whole genome, exome, targeted panel and phenotypic data in an open platform that will empower researchers and clinicians," said Dr. Robert Darnell, the New York Genome Center's Founding Director and CEO. "We believe that iterative analysis of the data and integration with our growing knowledge of cancer will allow doctors to provide better, personalized treatment."

- here is the announcement