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Analytical technologies developed at IBM's research laboratory in Haifa will help fight against resistant tuberculosis bacteria and cancer

"The challenge facing personalized oncology medicine is identifying the genetic deviation that gives rise to cancer," said Dr. Aya Sofer, director of the analytical analysis and big data department at the laboratory * words of Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi, senior director of the analytical research department at the laboratory The IBM research in Haifa, the resistance of tuberculosis bacteria to drugs poses a much more complex challenge compared to the genome research of the HIV virus.

DNA. Illustration: shutterstock
DNA. Illustration: shutterstock

The New York Genome Research Center (NYGC) and IBM are embarking on a joint venture to advance genomic medicine, with the help of IBM's Watson systems. IBM and the Center for Genome Research will test a unique Watson prototype, built for genome research tasks, as a tool to assist oncologists seeking to provide patients with personalized treatment.

Researchers from IBM's research laboratory in Haifa are involved in promoting the company's research in the field of personalization of oncology medicine, based on analyzing the genetic profile and gene sequences of the cancerous tumor, and cross-referencing this personal data with scientific databases, professional articles and previous treatment data.

According to Dr. Aya Sofer, director of the analytical analysis of Big Data and cognitive computing in the IBM research laboratories, "Since cancer is caused by changes in the human genome, each tumor is characterized by its own unique genomic structure. The challenge facing personalized oncology medicine concerns the identification of the genetic deviation that gives rise to cancer. This is in order to be able to prescribe the patient the medicine that optimally focuses on this deviation". According to Dr. Sofer, "the scientists at the laboratory in Haifa are working to identify the genetic sequences that may be the best targets for medicinal intervention."

The work is carried out in collaboration with Blue Giant scientists at the laboratory in Yorktown, New York. These, in turn, focus on finding the most promising drugs for each such target sequence.

In the first phase, the center in New York and its partner organizations will test Watson's abilities to help customize treatments for brain cancer patients, of the glioblastoma type, which kills about 13,000 people in the US alone every year. Despite a series of breakthroughs in the discovery of genetic characteristics of cancers such as this, only a few patients benefit from personalized treatments, tailored to deal with the special cancer mutations that affect each and every patient. Doctors do not yet benefit from the tools and information analysis capabilities required in order to present therapeutic options adapted to the DNA structure of each patient. In order to develop these options, it is necessary to analyze and match data about genomic sequences, articles in the scientific press and medical records - all in an era where the amount of medical information doubles every five years.

The joint venture is designed to speed up these complex processes, identify patterns in gene sequences and medical record data, and present insights that will help treating physicians bring the news of genomic medicine to their patients.

Watson's new system, which operates in a cloud environment, is designed to analyze genomic information and cross-reference it with the scientific and medical literature, and with drug and treatment databases. The depth of the analysis and the speed with which the system is able to scan data in a structured and unstructured format, will make it possible to increase the number of patients benefiting from access to treatments tailored according to their DNA structure.

"Since the human genome was mapped for the first time, more than a decade ago," said Dr. Sofer, "we have made significant progress in understanding the genetic characteristics of diseases. The real challenge facing us is to understand and find the logic behind huge amounts of genetic information and to translate this information into better treatments for patients." Dr. Sofer concluded by saying that "we hope that the combination of the doctor's knowledge and expertise, together with the power of cognitive computing systems, such as Watson, will allow us to achieve true personalization of cancer treatment."

Analytical technologies of the IBM research laboratory in Haifa - in a project in South Africa to prevent the resistance of tuberculosis bacteria to drugs

Researchers at the IBM research laboratory in Haifa are leading a joint venture between IBM and a South African research institute, to decipher the genomic structure of tuberculosis bacteria, in an attempt to overcome the acquired resistance of these bacteria to antibiotic drugs. The researchers focus on analyzing more than 200 genomic structures, each of which has 4.4 basic gene pairs, and use advanced analytical tools and Big Data systems also developed in IBM's research laboratories.
The South African Institute for Tuberculosis and AIDS, (KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV - K-RITH) will operate IBM analytical analysis systems for research into new methods to treat tuberculosis in South Africa. The Big Data analytical analysis tools, developed at IBM, will be used to examine the genetic structure of the bacteria that cause the disease and the special mechanism that causes these bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics. The ultimate goal of the research is to find new treatments and new approaches to diagnosis and treatment management.
The spread of tuberculosis in South Africa is mainly related to the infection with AIDS, the lack of integration and coordination between the treatments for AIDS and the treatments for tuberculosis, and the challenge of the supply and accessibility of health services. South Africa is currently ranked third in the world in the prevalence of tuberculosis, and the KwaZulu-Natal region, where the institute operates, is the region with the highest prevalence of both drug-resistant and drug-sensitive tuberculosis. More than 100,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported every year in this region, and more than 60% of patients are also HIV carriers.
The Research Institute for Tuberculosis and AIDS was established in 2009 as an independent research body, which focuses on basic scientific research on tuberculosis and AIDS, in order to translate the findings into new tools to control these diseases. The joint work with IBM and its unique Big Data tools and analytical analysis will make it possible to understand the genomic structure of tuberculosis bacteria, and the genomic sequences that develop in these bacteria and give them resistance to antibiotics.

According to Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi, senior manager of the analytical research field at IBM's research laboratory in Haifa, the resistance of tuberculosis bacteria to drugs poses a much more complex challenge compared to the study of the genome of the HIV virus. The computational tools required to derive genomic information of tuberculosis bacteria are extremely advanced and very new. "Cracking the genetic code will help define which combinations of treatments will work best in different patients, and how they will affect different genetic sequences that make up the bacteria," says Dr. Rosen-Zvi.

"In the field of HIV, the technology is able to examine the differences between the virus load in the blood before and after the treatment, in order to understand whether the treatment is successful. But in tuberculosis, there is no single standard that defines the state of the disease. We will have to develop different and integrated ways that will make it possible to label and measure the results of the treatment and new ways to define its effectiveness", explains the researcher.

The current project follows the success of a research effort that was also conducted at IBM's research laboratory in Haifa, EuResist, as part of a pan-European project that integrates data from HIV patients and examines the effectiveness of treatments for these patients with the help of Big Data analysis of the treatment processes and their results. The new technologies and mathematical models developed by IBM researchers in the laboratory in Haifa provide a smarter and more efficient way to choose the best drugs and the most effective combinations of different drugs, based on the special genetic characteristics identified in each AIDS patient.

3 תגובות

  1. I would love to participate in research on cancer and medicine
    I have something to show for things that will be around in another 50 years
    But maybe I'm not from the clique and I'm a pretty simple person but a first class professional
    I would be happy if you would check out what I have in my bag and be a part of a particularly cutting-edge research
    I have been an independent researcher in the field of medicine and cancer in particular for about 15 years
    And it's a shame that people like me, who think and act outside the box, and outside of the university colleague, don't share
    ……. There are cosmic surprises.
    Thanks ………
    Bnei Aaron 050-5561363

  2. It's a shame that I'm not in the project - research on cancer I could add a lot to you, I've made progress with the research and treatment 50 years ahead, the whole practice

  3. Does the science website have a linguistic review? I think the answer is no

    First, don't titles deserve a separate markup from the rest of the text?
    How is it possible that the same content was copied twice in the same article?

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