IBM ($IBM) has made another foray into healthcare research. The latest collaboration sees the tech veteran team up with Cleveland Clinic to use Watson in genomics cancer research.
Cleveland Clinic ultimately hopes Watson will allow its clinicians to tailor treatments to the genetics of each patient. Some of the information and treatments needed to take such an approach are already available, but the time needed to manually trawl the medical literature for correlations with patients' sequencing data makes it impractical. IBM thinks Watson's cognitive learning abilities can lighten the load on clinicians by automating the research process.
"[Authorized users] upload that variant file. Watson looks at the mutation. Watson looks up drugs and researchers access online visualizations through the browser, then get a PDF report. You can start driving value from the system as soon you as you get an ID. Security and compliance are built in," Watson Cancer Genomics VP Steve Harvey told InformationWeek. The workflow is one of several ways groups including Mayo Clinic, the New York Genome Center and Sanofi ($SNY) are using Watson.
A deal between IBM and Twitter ($TWTR) has opened up another way life science researchers can use Watson. The companies will collaborate on the creation of apps that analyze posts on Twitter. As Business Insider notes, such apps could prove useful to pharma companies, for example by providing a new way to make flu forecasts. IBM's analytics capabilities coupled to Twitter's data fire hose could also help drugmakers track what patients are saying about their products.