In a recent study published in the issue of Neurology® Genetics, an official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers at the New York Genome Center, The Rockefeller University and other NYGC member institutions, and IBM have illustrated the potential of IBM Watson for Genomics to analyze complex genomic data from state-of-the-art DNA sequencing of whole genomes.
The study also showed that WGS identified more clinically actionable mutations than the current standard of examining a limited subset of genes, known as a targeted panel. WGS currently requires significantly more manual analysis, so combining this method with artificial intelligence could help doctors identify potential therapies from WGS for more patients in less time.
Interpretation of genome sequencing data is a significant challenge because of the volume of genomic data to sift through, as well as the large, growing body of research on molecular drivers of cancer and potential targeted therapies. This informatics challenge is often a critical bottleneck when dealing with deadly cancers such as glioblastoma, with a median survival of less than 15 months following diagnosis.
"Our partnership has explored cutting-edge challenges and opportunities in harnessing genomics to help cancer patients. We provide initial insights into two critical issues: what clinical value can be extracted from different commercial and academic cancer genomic platforms, and how to think about scaling access to that value," noted the study's Principal Investigator, Robert Darnell, MD, PhD, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University and Founding Director of the New York Genome Center.
IBM Watson Health is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers.
"This study documents the strong potential of Watson for Genomics to help clinicians scale precision oncology more broadly," said Vanessa Michelini, Watson for Genomics Innovation Leader, IBM Watson Health. "Clinical and research leaders in cancer genomics are making tremendous progress towards bringing precision medicine to cancer patients, but genomic data interpretation is a significant obstacle, and that's where Watson can help."