IBM watson

An early prototype of IBM Watson | IBM

IBM Watson Health and Illumina have announced a new partnership to tackle the interpretation of cancer genome data that will see IBM’s cognitive system, Watson for Genomics, integrated into Illumina’s next generation sequencing platform. 

“To enable precision cancer medicine on a large scale, we need new tools to overcome the data barriers of genomic research,” said Francis deSouza, President and CEO of Illumina. “With a comprehensive assay of Illumina and the power of Watson, we hope to deliver a rapid turnaround of the genomic alteration results.”

Delivered through the cloud, Watson’s ability to analyse high volumes of data and understand complex questions has made it a valuable tool for doctors, researchers and healthcare providers. Not to mention a $1 million winner at Jeopardy.

Watson for Genomics will support Illumina’s solid tumour profiling panel, by reading the output of the test, combing through professional guidelines, medical literature, clinical trials, and other sources, to produce a report for use by researchers. Typically this process can take scientists in excess of a week to complete. Every month Watson ingests data from around 100,000 scientific articles and 100 new clinical trials. 

“This partnership lays the groundwork for more systematic study of the impact of genomics in oncology,” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager, IBM Watson Health. “Together we are poised to help researchers realize the potential of precision oncology by expanding access to valuable genome sequencing from Illumina and reliable, standardized genomic interpretation from Watson.”