IBM Watson for Oncology: What is it exactly?


Watson is an IBM supercomputer named after Thomas J. Watson who led IBM into the computer era. It represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of computing – moving from programmable systems which have been the mainstay for the last several decades to learning systems that keep getting smarter as they process more knowledge. IBM has a business unit dedicated to transforming healthcare into a quantifiable service where every bit of information is available. It is called Watson Health and offers services in Genomics, Drug Discovery, Oncology, Imaging etc. By using it, physicians only have to go through their personalized reports instead of reading through dozens of papers for every patient’s case.

Umbilical Cord Stem cells for Heart failure treatment

Researchers from the Universidad de los Andes in Chile have found promising results from the Umbilical Cord stem cells that could be used for non-invasive therapy. Heart failure which is marked by the heart muscle’s inability to pump blood efficiently, affects around 37 million people worldwide. Despite medical advances, half of patients diagnosed with heart failure are prone die within five years of diagnosis, according to Figueroa.

The Study


Radiotracers are chemical compounds that are used to diagnose or deliver therapy to specific organs and tissues. The radiotracer consists of a linking molecule, a binding molecule and a radioactive compound. Radiotracer is injected into the body and it binds to specific target cells in the body. The linking molecule binds the radioactive compound to the binding molecule, which then binds to specific cells in body.

The radiotracer decays by emitting ionizing radiation that damages nuclear DNA, thereby stopping division of cells (cancer as well as normal cells). Radiotracers are not something new. In fact, they have been around for 100 years !!

Introduction to Proton Therapy

What is Proton therapy and why should you care?

Conventional Radiation therapy techniques use X-rays (‘photons’) to treat cancer by focussing X-rays on cancer regions. Proton therapy is a technique to treat cancer by the use of ‘protons’. The usage of protons to treat cancer may be advantages in various ways.

Radiation therapy for cancer treatment causes unnecessary exposure to healthy cells also, posing health risks on the patient. We can use Proton therapy for the following reasons.

  • We may want to expose children and pregnant women to lower amount of radiation.

Could Computer Models predict life threatening Heart issues?

Physiologic and Engineering techniques are combined to provide personalized treatments for each patient to predict long-term results. A simpler way to visualize the idea is by imagining that, the doctor pulls up a virtual model of the patient’s heart on the computer and treats it with several drugs and a few moments later, she would be able to see how the heart is doing five years down the road.

The Study

A couple of researchers from The University of Kentucky Kenneth Campbell and Jonathan Wenk are working on building a multiscale simulation of heart by allowing the computer model to use MRI or Genetic data of the patients. They are granted a 3-million-dollar fund by The National Institute of Health.

Applications of 3-D printing in orthopedics…

3-D printing in orthopedics is gaining momentum in the production of customized implants, medical devices, and orthotics from diverse materials. 3-D printing technology reduces surgery times, saves money, leads to better stability of the implant in the long run, and improves the clinical outcomes of surgical procedures. 3-D printing applications in orthopedics include: