IBM on Thursday said it is extending its partnership with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to apply artificial intelligence to cancer treatments for veterans.

In 2016, as part of then-Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and IBM embarked on a collaboration aimed at providing access to “precision treatment” options to over 10,000 patients with cancer. And today, it publicizes the extension of its partnership that will continue to use IBM’s Watson for the Genomic platform through June 2019.

According to the VA, since its start, the program has achieved a measure of success. Using Artificial Intelligence in the treatment helps oncologists interpret the genomic data more quickly and easily. So far, the VA has used IBM Watson to help more than 2,700 veterans with cancer.

To prepare an individualized treatment plan, teams of scientists and clinicians must sequence a patient’s DNA to pinpoint the likely cancer-causing mutations and determine what treatments would target those specific mutations. From those insights, they develop personalized therapies targeting particularly aggressive late-stage cancers, such as breast, bowel, prostate, and lung.

Our mission with VA’s precision oncology program is to bring the most advanced treatment opportunities to veterans, in hopes of giving our nation’s heroes better treatments through these breakthroughs. We look forward to continuing this strategic partnership to assist VA in providing the best care for our veterans. – Peter O’Rourke, acting VA secretary

The processing of the samples that are collected from patients nationwide is done at the central hub in Durham, North Carolina. For most of the veterans who are diagnosed with cancer, the oncology program has afforded access to cutting-edge medical care that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.

This is where AI can play an important role in helping to scale accuracy on oncology, the largest integrated health system in the U.S. – Dr. Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for IBM Watson Health

The extended partnership with IBM Watson furthers the VA’s artificial intelligence ambitions. As more clients engage in IBM journey it moves on proving its unique leadership in providing innovative technology coupled with trust and security.

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