Through a new collaboration, IBM and Quest Diagnostics launched IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, which is a new service that combines the genomic sequencing expertise with Watson-powered cognitive computing to inform precision treatment and clinical trial options for cancer patients. Co-collaborator Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) will supplement Watson-powered analysis with its deep knowledge base in oncology medical care to help inform precision treatment. The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard will provide advanced genome sequencing capabilities as part of the collaboration.

Until very recently most cancer treatment plans have been designed with a one-size-fits-all approach. For some, this method is very successful, but for others it may not be. Precision medicine takes an innovative approach to cancer diagnosis treatment and management that takes into account a patient’s genes, family history, environment and other factors. Essentially, precision medicine gives clinicians tools to understand underlying issues that may affect a patient’s disease and help predict treatment options (including clinical trials) that will be most effective.

2016-10-18-watson-1Quest has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to precision medicine and next-generation sequencing through relationships with MSK and the University of California San Francisco as well as the Personalized Medicine Coalition.

These relationships and as well as the most recent collaboration with IBM and MSK are only the beginning. Over time, Quest intends to introduce new offerings that extend the mutation data sets to include more genes, and greater insights, supporting improved diagnostics, research and clinical trials. Most importantly, through its national reach, it aims to bring these innovations to clinicians and their patients around the country.

Speaking of the IBM collaboration, Jay G. Wohlgemuth, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president of research, development and medical, Quest Diagnostics, said: “Precision medicine is changing the way we treat cancer and giving new hope to people living with the disease. However, access to genomic sequencing and tumor analysis required to determine appropriate precision medicine treatments for a patient can be a challenge. This service combines Quest’s state-of-the-art tumor analysis and national access with the cognitive computing of IBM’s Watson and the deep cancer treatment expertise of MSK. This is a powerful combination that we believe it will leap frog conventional genomic services as a better approach for identifying targeted oncology treatments promoting favorable outcomes.”

There is great potential for precision medicine to improve care and access to potentially efficacious treatments. Quest’s past and recent collaborations and offerings, including IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, are just the beginning. Through future initiatives Quest will leverage advances in genomics and analyzing large data sets to advance precision medicine and improve outcomes for patient with data-based, personalized diagnostics.