IBM, New Jersey institutes form development project for cancer diagnosis

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IBM, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University and The State University of New Jersey have formed a collaborative research effort to develop diagnostic tools that can improve the accuracy of predicting patients' responses to treatment and related clinical outcomes.

Through the use of computer and imaging technologies that facilitate comparisons of cancerous tissues, cell and radiology studies, researchers and physicians expect to determine cancer prognoses, therapy planning and the discovery and development of new cancer drugs.

The new project is an extension of the Help Defeat Cancer (HDC) project, in which IBM's World Community Grid was used to demonstrate the effectiveness of characterizing different types and stages of disease based upon the underlying staining patterns exhibited by digitally imaged cancer tissues, according to IBM. The company said the World Community Grid is a virtual supercomputer that gains its resources by thousands of volunteers donating their unused computer time.

Leveraging the results gathered during the course of the HDC project, the project has recently received a $2.5 million grant through competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The main objective of the project is to build a deployable, grid-enabled decision support system to help researchers, physicians and scientists to analyze and classify imaged cancer specimens. It will be a useful tool for personalized treatments for people with cancer based upon how patients with similar protein expression signatures and cancers have reacted to treatments, IBM said.

The team is expanding the first phase of the project that studied breast, colon, head and neck cancers to include other cancers as well.