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Illumina Partnering with IBM, Phillips on Genomics Tools

Genomics graphic

(National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH)

9 January 2017. Genomics technology company Illumina Inc. is collaborating with technology enterprises IBM and Royal Phillips to expand its sequencing services in precision medicine for cancer. The partnerships will combine IBM’s Watson supercomputer and Phillips’s clinical informatics services with Illumina’s sequencing systems.

Illumina, in San Diego, is a provider of systems for analyzing human genomes for researchers as well as the medical, forensics, agricultural, and pharmaceutical marketplaces. Its systems include instrumentation for sequencing whole genomes and more targeted testing devices. The company also develops systems for sequencing RNA, gene expression, epigenetics, and tests specifically for cancer-related analysis.

Both of Illumina’s new collaborations are designed for investigations of cancer-causing mutations in the human genome to support precision medicine. The IBM partnership links IBM’s Watson cloud-based supercomputer services for health care, known as Watson Health, with Illumina’s TruSight Tumor 170 test for solid tumor cancers. The TruSight Tumor 170 test provides high-throughput sequencing for 170 genes most associated with common solid tumors, analyzing DNA and RNA, even from low-quality samples.

Under the agreement with IBM, Watson Genomics, a sub-set of Watson Health, will tap into its medical databases to find professional guidelines, medical literature, clinical trial data that correspond to genomic alterations revealed by TruSight Tumor 170 analysis. The companies say, Watson’s search and retrieval can be done in a matter of minutes, replacing a process that normally takes researchers about a week. IBM notes that Watson Genomics adds some 10,000 scientific articles and 100 clinical trials each month to its database.

The partnership with Phillips will integrate data from Illumina sequencing systems into Phillips’s IntelliSpace Genomics technology for cancer specialists. IntelliSpace Genomics is built on Phillips’s HealthSuite platform, a cloud-based service that the company says makes it possible to aggregate data from multiple sources into electronic patient health databases, particularly for chronic conditions. IntelliSpace Genomics, says Phillips, is designed to integrate information from radiologists and pathologists, as well as molecular data for analysis and reports on individual patients to physicians.

The Illumina-Phillips collaboration, say the companies, are expected to combine data from Illumina sequencing systems with digital radiology, pathology, and immunology sources, integrated with patients’ medical records. The system is expected to display results in a dashboard view to provide insights for cancer physicians.

While the companies say the systems in both collaborations are now offered to researchers and not for diagnostics, the eventual end-users are expected to be physicians serving cancer patients. “This partnership lays the groundwork for more systematic  study of the impact of genomics in oncology,” says Deborah DiSanzo, general manager, IBM Watson Health in a joint statement.”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.”

However, Jeroen Tas, CEO of Connected  Care and Health Informatics at Philips notes, “Through this collaboration we will  unlock the value of genomics for a much wider group of laboratories and care providers  to help them advance genomics initiatives at greater speed with the aim to offer  precision medicine with better outcomes for their patients.”

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