IBM's Watson

IBM's WatsonIBM and the New York Genome Center announced a partnership to test whether Watson, the computer that won on Jeopardy, can sift through the genomes of cancer patients and help doctors pick drugs. This effort could hold the key to making DNA sequencing for cancer affordable, but there is a vast amount of work to do that will take years at a minimum. The effort is starting small, looking at 25 patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a rare brain cancer that is almost always fatal. Without treatment median survival is only a few months; surgery, drugs, and radiation extend that to about a year. Each patient’s tumor will be sequenced using the machines made by Illumina, as will the patient’s own genome. The two will be compared, and a list of differences will be sent to Watson. The NYGC will also look at the RNA made by the genes — think of RNA as a messenger that carries genetic information outside the nucleus of the cell.

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