IBM inks deals to give Watson a role in R&D at Icon and Teva

The march of IBM's ($IBM) Watson into biopharma R&D is continuing apace. Icon ($ICLR) and Teva ($TEVA) are the latest companies to ink deals to access the computer system, giving them new ways to match patients to clinical trials and create disease models.

Watson is moving into new niches through the deals with Icon and Teva. Icon, the first CRO to sign up to use Watson, is applying the computer system to the hoary problem of enrolling patients into clinical trials. The project draws on the trove of de-identified patient data IBM funneled into Watson by acquiring Explorys. Icon will use Watson to filter through these 50 million patient records and match people to clinical trials. In doing so, Icon will gain a new way to assess how many people are eligible for a trial and where they live. Icon is initially looking at breast, lung, colon and rectal cancer.

Teva has broader ambitions for Watson. The R&D-related component of the deal covers the use of Watson to create disease models, which Teva hopes will lead to therapeutic advances. Teva will also use the computer system to gather and analyze real-world data, an initiative designed to yield new insights into drug misuse and medication adherence. "We believe Teva will be in a unique position to put the best information and insights in the hands of physicians, care teams and patients, to empower treatment optimization," Teva CIO Guy Hadari said in a statement.

IBM unveiled the deals with Icon and Teva as part of a well-stocked slate of announcements about Watson's expansion into health. The company is setting up a global headquarters for Watson Health in Cambridge, MA, putting it on the doorsteps of many of the leading biopharma companies it hopes will adopt the computer system. The offerings available to such companies are expanding, too. IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance, which helps companies to set up cloud data management systems that meet regulatory requirements, is one of two new offerings.

Benjamin Chodroff, CTO of CloudOne and an early user of the offering, has praised the service. "IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance will help ensure that the infrastructure, network, and platform remains stable, consistent and thoroughly documented with the required change controls," Chodroff said in a statement. "The amount of effort required for our own highly skilled team is reduced from weeks of deployment time into a few hours."

- read the Icon news
- here's the Teva release
- check out IBM's statement
- and FierceBiotech's take