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IBM's foul-mouthed supercomputer Watson fights brain cancer

Having conquered the game show circuit, IBM's Watson supercomputer is taking a noble step toward curing cancer.

In partnership with the New York Genome Center (NYGC), the machine will aid oncologists in DNA-based treatments for glioblastoma — the most common type of brain cancer, which kills thousands every year.

And while human researchers have made groundbreaking discoveries over the past decade, uncovering genetic drivers of these sorts of diseases, big data is getting in the way of implementing changes.

According to IBM, doctors are forced to correlate massive amounts of information, from full genomic sequencing to reams of medical journals, new studies, and clinical records — at a time when medical information is doubling every five years.

"The answers are out there, but they are buried in data," the company said.

Watson's quick computerised brain could be the key to unlocking new resources and making greater strides toward patients' health.

By leveraging NYGC's genomic and clinical expertise, a refined Watson service aims to speed up the typically complex process of identifying patterns and unlocking insights. Ultimately, IBM wants to help medical professionals develop more personalised cancer care.

In doing so, the organisations will utilise the new cloud-based Watson, a piece of artificial intelligence that can continually learn as it encounters new scenarios.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York is already using the supercomputer to help oncologists treat patients with lung cancer — just one of the many projects funded by IBM's $1 billion investment in its new Watson Group.

The quick-thinking computer can do more than save lives, though. A number of companies have already tapped into the Watson Developers Cloud, used to help transform how consumers shop, how hospitals procure medical devices, and how health plans engage with members.

Back in January 2013, it was reported that Watson had learned a few choice swear words.