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Pfizer, IBM partner to advance immuno-oncology research

PBR Staff Writer Published 02 December 2016

Pharmaceutical major Pfizer and technology giant IBM have partnered to accelerate immuno-oncology research.

The collaboration integrates cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson with Pfizer’s scientific know how to help scientists generate meaningful insights.

Pfizer will be the first company to use IBM Watson's cloud-based offering, Watson for Drug Discovery, combining its own data with licensed and publicly available data.

The combined data will allow oncology researchers at Pfizer to utilize Watson's machine learning, natural language processing, and cognitive reasoning technologies to identify new drug targets and develop combination therapies.

Pfizer researchers will also use the technology for analyzing and testing hypotheses to generate evidence-based insights for real-time interaction.

Pfizer believes that the use of Watson’s cognitive capabilities in its drug discovery efforts will allow it to bring new immuno-oncology therapeutics to patients more rapidly.

Pfizer executive vice president for strategy, portfolio and commercial operations Laurie Olson said: “Applying the power of cognitive computing to an area that is a core part of our DNA – discovering new medicines – is helping Pfizer to learn how we can most efficiently discover those immuno-oncology therapies that have the best chance of successful outcomes for patients.”

IBM Watson for Drug Discovery helps researchers and organizations discover potential new drug targets and drug indications.

It can collect, normalize and curate both structured and unstructured data to help users identify hidden patterns.

In October this year, IBM expanded its worldwide e-health alliance with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries with new projects designed to discover new uses for existing drugs and advance chronic disease management.

Last month, IBM and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard launched a five-year, $50m research initiative to study why cancers become drug resistant.


Image: IBM recently demonstrated artificial intelligence and imaging at RSNA 2016, world's largest annual gathering of radiologists in Chicago. Photo: courtesy of IBM Watson Health.