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Teva, IBM expand Watson Health Cloud collaboration


LAS VEGAS — In a move aimed at addressing the two challenges of discovering new options for treatment and improving chronic disease management, Teva and IBM on Wednesday announced an expansion of their e-health alliance, with both projects running on the IBM Watson Health Cloud. 


The expanded partnership will include a three-year research collaboration to develop cognitive technologies that will allow for a systematic approach to drug repurposing, as well as delivering scale in the discovery of new uses for existing drugs. According to a report from Drug Discovery Today, some 30% of Food and Drug Administration approvals have been for new uses for existing drugs and vaccines, and the repurposing approach could streamline the 20-year, $2.5 billion project of bringing new therapies to market. 


Teva and IBM will aim to design, build and deploy a systematic process for reurposing drugs, with the hope of it becoming an industry blueprint, by combining human insight with machine-learning algorithms and real-world evidence from the IBM Watson Health Cloud. The technology will be applied on a massive scale to find correlations between drug molecules and health conditions. 


“Teva is a leader in innovation using existing molecules and IBM has pioneered Watson cognitive computing — it is a natural partnership,” Teva president of global R&D and chief scientific officer Michael Hayden said. “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.”


The companies also announced that they would be targeting central nervous system diseases in their chronic disease management project, which will combine cloud-connected drug delivery and app technology with more than 6 billion data points processed by Watson to provide actionable insights, including the first-ever integration with The Weather Company data. Watson’s cognitive processing capabilities and newly developed algorithms, the data may be used to calculate the risk of health events. Teva will deliver that information to caregivers and patients through 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,” Teva Global Specialty Medicines president Dr. Rob Koremans said. “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.”


Wednesday’s announcement coincided with World of Watson conference, at which Teva chairman Yitzhak Perterburg said


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


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