Lab Canada

IBM joins with cancer centers to accelerate research, diagnosis and treatment

Washington, DC – IBM says it is joining forces with three cancer centres, one Canadian and two American, to help accelerate cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. Separate agreements have been made with Montreal’s CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center – Mother and Child University Hospital Center, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and the Molecular Profiling Institute.

Recognizing the critical role that information technology will play in the 21st century in understanding and treating complex and deadly diseases like cancer, IBM says it is working with the people, technologies and partnerships needed to battle the disease.

IBM is working with the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center – Mother and Child University Hospital Center, a university teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Montreal, to help develop an informatics infrastructure, based on IBM’s clinical genomics solution, to better define the genetic markers for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Through the use of advanced technologies, the CHU’s researchers will have real-time access to a body of quality data, using technology that is easy to navigate and compatible with their needs. Clinical data that was once manually extracted from the hospital’s patient file will now be electronically transmitted and merged with genomic data to create a medical information repository. This will reduce a query process from days to minutes and allow researchers to develop personalized therapies for various patients and keep longitudinal records.

“All research projects will eventually be supported from a single database and integrated infrastructure. And, starting now our physicians can access data in a way suited to their specific needs,” says Dr Daniel Sinnett, associate professor at the University of Montreal and head of the leukemia- cancer section at the Research Center. “This means we can avoid duplicate entries, delete nominative information from clinical systems data and provide long term follow-up with patients well into adulthood.”

The work with the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center – Mother and Child University Hospital Center builds on IBM’s work with St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St Jude operates an IBM supercomputer system that can perform more than 600 billion operations per second and allows researchers there to accelerate medical research to find preventions, cures and new treatment options for catastrophic diseases in children, such as cancers, acquired and inherited immunodeficiencies and genetic disorders.

IBM and MSKCC are building a state-of-the-art integrated information management system to improve the ability of clinicians and researchers to study long-term cancer-related illnesses, identify disease trends and determine success rates. Funded by a $3 million grant of technology and services from IBM, MSKCC will include a comprehensive system to integrate its hospital data with text mining and related analytical capabilities into a unified information management environment to facilitate predictive analysis and research. In addition, pathologists at MSKCC are working closely with researchers at IBM to create a searchable database for pathology reports.

Information technology not only has the potential to accelerate cancer research, it is also being applied today to help diagnose and treat cancer, leveraging our increasing molecular level understanding of this disease. To this end, IBM and the Molecular Profiling Institute have partnered to collaborate and harness new molecular profiling technologies to help diagnose ailments and access information to determine better treatment options. The technology being developed jointly will provide clinicians with diagnostic intelligence and analysis to assist them in making molecular distinctions when diagnosing and treating cancer patients.

It is a first step to making personalized diagnosis based on phenotype and genomic data possible and will send physicians and clinicians a tailored patient report based on the patient’s complete molecular profile. Molecular Profiling has a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute to work together to accelerate genomic discoveries from bench to bedside.

“Our ability to characterize an individual patient’s disease at a much greater level of detail in combination with our research partner’s ability to mine and translate molecular data will accelerate our applications to patient care,” said Dr. Robert Penny, CEO of the Molecular Profiling Institute. “IBM’s partnership with the Molecular Profiling Institute will help us get one step closer to the vision of personalized medicine based on integrated patient data and the latest advancements in molecular medicine.”