Teva IBM join forces on finding new uses for drugs

IBM and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., are going to expand their global e-Health alliance to focus on the discovery of new treatment options and improving chronic disease management. Both projects will run on the IBM Watson Health Cloud.

According to the expanded partnership agreement, the companies will work for three years on developing technologies to enable a systematic approach to the emerging field of drug repurposing and discovering of new uses for existing drugs.

The companies also announced that respiratory and central nervous system (CNS) diseases will be the first targets for their chronic disease management initiative, which will be the first project to integrate data from The Weather Company (an IBM Business) into the analysis.

Professor Yitzhak Peterburg, Teva’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, on Wednesday’s announcement during a presentation on the main stage at the World of Watson conference said: “By combining the skills of our partners, such as Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities, with Teva’s pharmaceutical expertise, we can create novel solutions and deliver real value to people.”

Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health, said: “Working together, Teva and IBM create an unprecedented opportunity to help doctors and patients worldwide achieve the promise of personalized healthcare. IBM and Teva’s announcements today are notable for two reasons. First, IBM’s 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.”

Finding new uses for existing drugs
Thirty percent of regulatory approvals by the FDA in recent years have been for new uses of previously approved drugs and vaccines, Teva’s press release revealed. A repurposing approach to drug discovery and development is intended to streamline the time- and cost-intensive process of bringing new therapies to market, which can take the industry up to 20 years and cost in excess of $2.5 billion. Medicines that have regulatory clearance have been comprehensively tested, resulting in known safety and efficacy profiles which may significantly reduce the drug development burden. New uses, formulations and delivery innovations for previously approved medicines have the potential to come to market quickly and efficiently and address unmet medical needs.

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

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

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