Novartis and IBM Watson Healthcare combine efforts in outcomes-based healthcare. 

To optimize cancer care and improve patient outcomes, Novartis has formed a unique collaboration with IBM Watson Health. Together the companies will develop a “cognitive solution that uses real-world data and advanced analytical techniques with the aim to provide better insights on the expected outcomes of breast cancer treatment options.”

By joining efforts, the two companies are combining Novartis’ innovation and breast cancer expertise with the advanced data analytics and machine learning capabilities of IBM Watson Health and, primarily using real-world patient data, determine which combinations and sequences may lead to the best patient outcomes. Depending on the success of the initiative, it may be expanded to enhance outcomes for patients with other cancers.

Breast cancer is a priority oncology focus area for Novartis, which has a very broad treatment portfolio with a large number of advanced breast cancer compounds in development. Currently, the company has four marketed products for the treatment of breast cancer, including Kisqali®* (ribociclib; only commercially available in the US), Afinitor® (everolimus), Tykerb®/Tyverb® (lapatinib) and Femara® (letrozole). Breast cancer compounds in development include BYL719 (alpelisib), an alpha-specific PI3K inhibitor; LSZ102, an oral SERD; LJM716, a fully human, anti-HER3 IgG1 antibody; and MCS110, a colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF1) inhibitor.

“Scientific understanding of advanced breast cancer is improving and the treatment landscape is expanding, but new therapies and real-world evidence can raise more questions around the optimal treatment plan for individual patients,” the company stated.

"Through this collaboration with IBM Watson Health, we will use real-world breast cancer data and cognitive computing to identify solutions that may help physicians better understand which therapy may be best for which patients or advise clinical practice guidelines, with the goal of improving patient outcomes and experiences," said Bruno Strigini, CEO, Novartis Oncology. "We hope this collaboration also uncovers care efficiencies that can be applied beyond breast cancer."   

Watson, according to IBM Watson Health, has the first commercially available cognitive computing capability and thus represents a new era in computing. The system is not only able to analyze large quantities of data, but also to understand complex questions asked in conventional language. It also learns continuously from these interactions, building knowledge. Watson is thus capable of proposing evidence-based answers.

"At Watson Health, we are tackling some of the world's greatest challenges at the nexus of science and data, and we are proud to work with Novartis to better individualize advanced breast cancer treatment approaches in an effort to enhance patient care," said Anil Jain, MD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer for IBM Watson Health. "As the industry shifts toward value-based care, it's critical for clinicians to understand the real-world outcomes of therapeutics on subsets of their patients, and our goal ultimately is to put those insights into oncologists' hands. With the deep expertise of Novartis in breast cancer, we are confident that this collaboration may provide transformative tools for clinicians and patients to make more informed treatment decisions."