JPM: Illumina links up with IBM's Watson

Dive Brief:

  • Illumina, Inc, already at the forefront of genomic testing, is partnering with IBM to pair the computer giant's Watson technology with Illumina's cancer genome sequencing platform.
  • Announced in conjunction with the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the partnership aims to ease the time-consuming process of interpreting genomic data. 
  • Researchers who use Illumina's TruSight Tumor 170 profiling panel will now be able to gain access to interpretation reports produced by Watson Genomics, which annotates each genetic alteration found through testing. 

Dive Insight:

Cancer therapeutics are become increasingly targeted, which is slowly making personalized care more of a reality — even if broad-based benefits still remain mostly out of reach.

Genomic sequencing is an important part of this evolution, allowing scientists to zero in on the genetic changes spurring cancer growth. Sequencing can also aid selection of treatment and support drug development. 

Analysis of the huge volume of data created by sequencing, though, is time-consuming and costly. And that's where Illumina and IBM see advantages to pairing Watson with Illumina's tumor profiling panel.

"To enable precision cancer medicine on a large scale, we need new tools to overcome the data barriers of genomic research," said John Leite, vice president of Oncology at Illumina in a statement. "We hope to deliver a rapid turnaround of the genomic alteration results."

Watson Genomics looks at the data output from Illumina's TruSight Tumor 170, and annotates the genomic alterations based on reams of data compiled from guidelines, clinical trials and medical literature. The resulting report will hopefully help researchers effectively use sequencing data to inform treatment.

"This partnership lays the groundwork for more systematic study of the impact of genomics in oncology," said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager, IBM Watson Health.

IBM's supercomputer technology is already in use across 16 cancer institutes and last summer the company teamed up with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to analyze genomic data of 10,000 cancer patients. 

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Filed Under: Mergers and Acquisitions / Deals