MESOTHELIOMA and cancers such as asbestos related lung cancer face a super hi-tech new weapon – IBM's world-beating super computer WATSON.
WATSON, which has a memory of 15trillion bytes – the equivalent of 2,800 powerful computers – hit the headlines after beating two human champions of the US game show Jeopardy.
Now the IBM super-brain is sifting through millions of pages of cancer and mesothelioma research from all over the world in a bid to help speed up the diagnosis of cancer symptoms.
IBM is working with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and health insurer WellPoint for the venture, meaning that the findings will not stay in the confines of a computer room.
Sloan-Kettering's president Craig Thompson said: “It can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings.
“The combination of transformational technologies found in Watson with our cancer analytics and decision-making process has the potential to revolutionize the accessibility of information for the treatment of cancer in communities across the country and around the world.”
The first work undertaken by WATSON will look at 1,500 lung cancer cases from a New York hospital.
The effects will be felt outside of Manhattan, however, as Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and Westmed Medical Group in the New York suburbs will be the first to test the service.
It is expected that the research will then extend to malignant mesothelioma of the type frequently linked to asbestosis and of the type currently a hot topic for the world's asbestos lawyers.