Pathway Genomics strikes IBM Watson deal and research collaboration

Pathway Genomics had a busy week. The San Diego, CA-based genetic testing laboratory began by securing an investment from IBM ($IBM) that will also give it access to Watson, before going on to form a cancer research collaboration with a registry created by researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mayo Clinic, Dana-Farber and other organizations.

The oncology research collaboration will see Pathway Genomics use its ties to patients and physicians to spread the word about the Prospective Registry of Multiplex Testing (PROMPT), a pool of data on people who been tested for cancer-causing genetic mutations. Researchers from a who's who of oncology research organizations created PROMPT to better understand the risk of developing cancer associated with various genes.

Dr. Mark Robson, clinic director of the clinical genetics service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said the registry wants to gather data on some of the less well understood genetic mutations, which for PROMPT's purposes include everything other than BRCA1 and BRCA2. Pathway Genomics is one of several laboratories that are supporting the initiative by telling patients and physicians for whom they run tests of the opportunity to contribute data.

The arrangement tightens Pathway Genomics' ties to the IT-enabled life science research sector, but the company has much broader interests. IBM is supporting this other side of the business. As well as investing in Pathway Genomics, IBM is providing the company with access to Watson. Pathway Genomics will use Watson to support a consumer-facing app that can answer questions such as "how much exercise should I do today?" and "how much coffee can I drink on Monday?"

- read the PROMPT news
- and the IBM release