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Doctor Watson Is In

Watson, the Jeopardy!-winning artificial intelligence computer, is going to be put to work to sift through genomic data and literature in an effort to come up with personalized cancer treatments.

The Watson Group at IBM is partnering with the New York Genome Center to use a custom Watson prototype to help oncologists devise personalize treatments for glioblastoma patients based on their tumor's mutations. Watson, NYGC says, will help speed up the process of comparing and integrating genomic data with the scientific and medical literature and clinical records, especially as the computer learns as it goes.

Watson will “do the literature search, the drug database search, and find all the relationships between those specific mutations and drugs that are available or maybe in clinical trials that they can find, or even drugs that are related to the pathways that those mutations are associated with,” Toby Bloom, the NYGC’s deputy scientific director of informatics, tells Xconomy.

Watson won't replace physicians, notes Ajay Royyuru, the director of research at IBM. “In the situation of actually giving care to reach patients, it’s safe to say there is never going to be a solution that replaces the expertise of physicians," Royyuru tells the Washington Post.