IBM and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are expanding their existing global eHealth alliance to focus on two key healthcare challenges: the discovery of new treatment options and improving chronic disease management.

The expanded partnership features a new, three-year research collaboration to develop cognitive technologies that can enable a systematic approach to the emerging field of drug repurposing and deliver unprecedented scale in the discovery of new uses for existing drugs.

Both projects will run on the IBM Watson Health Cloud, a health-data enabled platform-as-a-service that provides a foundation for cognitive offerings and is designed to help healthcare organisations derive individualised insights and obtain a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health.

“Working together, Teva and IBM create an unprecedented opportunity to help doctors and patients worldwide achieve the promise of personalised healthcare,” said General Manager for IBM Watson Health, Deborah DiSanzo.

“IBM and Teva’s announcements are notable for two reasons. First, IBMs work with Teva extends from the biopharmaceutical research bench to an individual’s medicine cabinet – underscoring the power of Watson cognitive computing across life sciences and healthcare. Second, this work includes the first integration of data from The Weather Company with the Watson Health Cloud, a milestone and demonstrable of how the definition of ‘health data’ is evolving,” continued DiSanzo.

Discovering new uses for existing drugs

The aim of the new collaboration between Teva and IBM Research is to design, build and deploy a systematic process for drug repurposing, potentially becoming a blueprint for use across the industry.

The process will combine human insight with unique machine-learning algorithms and real-world evidence accessed through the IBM Watson Health Cloud. IBM Watson Health Cloud technology will be applied on a massive scale with the aim of revealing previously hidden correlations between a drug molecule and health conditions.

“Teva is a leader in innovation using existing molecules and IBM has pioneered Watson cognitive computing – it is a natural partnership,” said Teva’s President of Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Michael Hayden.

“This collaboration will bring together the science and the technology to scale up ‘serendipity’ to an industrial level, opening up new and exciting possibilities to create novel treatments for patients based on existing medicines,” continued Dr Hayden.

“There is so much data out there that is currently underutilised, yet has the potential to significantly inform drug repurposing. 80% of all health data is invisible to current technology systems because it’s unstructured,” said IBM Fellow and Director of Healthcare & Life Sciences for IBM Research, Ajay Royyuru.

“Using cognitive technologies to mine this data could reveal novel therapies for diseases that desperately need tackling. By teaming up with Teva, our belief is we will gain insights that can lead pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines that benefit patients worldwide,” continued Royyuru.

Improving chronic disease management

To address the global impact of chronic diseases, Teva and IBM are working together on an initiative that combines Teva’s therapeutic technologies with IBM Watson’s cognitive computing. Together, the companies aim to enable patients, healthcare providers and payers to better understand and control chronic conditions, and track treatments.

The chronic disease management collaboration will combine cloud-connected drug delivery and app technology with more than six billion data points processed by Watson to provide actionable insights, including the first-ever integration of data from The Weather Company.

Using Watson’s cognitive processing capabilities and newly developed algorithms these data may be used to calculate the prospective risk of health events, such as an asthma attack, with Teva delivering that information directly to caregivers and their patients via an app or other software interface.

“Teva envisions a future where we can empower patients and their families to better understand diseases, like asthma, and cope with health challenges in a more systematic, data-driven manner, with the ability to be proactive, rather than reactive,” said President and CEO of Teva Global Specialty Medicines, Dr Rob Koremans.

“In doing so, we aim to cut treatment costs by providing patients, payers, healthcare providers and caregivers with relatable data that can inform action and insights into a patient’s total disease  management plan,” continued Dr Koremans.

Respiratory and central nervous system (CNS) diseases will be the first targets for their chronic disease management initiative.

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