IBM Watson, VA extend precision oncology AI partnership through 2019

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and IBM Watson Health have extended their partnership leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to help analyze cancer data in veterans with cancer.

Beginning two years ago, as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the precision oncology partnership allows oncologists and pathologists to analyze and sequence tumor DNA from patients across the U.S. Then, AI is used to interpret the genomic data and pick out mutations and potential therapeutic options for patients, according to an IBM news release.

The VA treats 3.5 percent of all cancer patients nationwide, and most targeted through this program have stage 4 cancer with little treatment options left. With the announced extension, the partnership will continue using Watson for Genomics through June 2019.

"VA is leading the nation to scale and spread the delivery of high quality precision oncology care, one Veteran at a time," said Kyu Rhee, MD, and chief health officer for IBM Watson Health. "It is incredibly challenging to read, understand and stay up-to-date with the breadth and depth of medical literature and link them to relevant mutations for personalized cancer treatments. This is where AI can play an important role in helping to scale precision oncology, as demonstrated in our work with VA, the largest integrated health system in the U.S."