International Business Machines Corp.(NYSE:IBM) announced on Thursday, August 28th, that its Watson Discovery Advisor technology can now be purchased as a cloud service. IBM’s Watson uses a cognitive computing technology, which enables it to tackle extremely complex problems. Watson has already proven useful in a number of areas, and further proof of the utility of the AI is now piling up in medical science.

IBM International Business Machines

Big Blue also announced that pharma titans Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) are also working with IBM’s Watson to assist in research initiatives. J&J is collaborating with the Discovery Advisor team to teach Watson to understand scientific papers that present new drug clinical trial outcomes. They hope to speed up drug comparative-effectiveness studies. Sanofi’s research is focusing on drug re-purposing, which means developing new indications for existing drugs.

Baylor study highlights promise of IBM’s Watson

A peer-reviewed study published by the Baylor College of Medicine and IBM earlier this week revealed that the team had identified six promising paths for future cancer research with the help of Watson Discovery Advisor.

In the Baylor research project, IBM’s Watson assessed more than 70,000 scientific articles related to p53, a protein known to be linked to many cancers. The prescreening analysis undertaken by Watson helped Baylor scientists identify six proteins that can modify p53, and are therefore of significant research interest.

Statement from IBM

“In the life sciences industry at large, researchers typically come across one of these target proteins per year,” elaborated IBM Watson VP John Gordon. “Baylor working with Watson found six targets, and the first two that they’ve taken into wet labs have been validated, so they’re outpacing the industry.”

Gordon spoke to Information earlier this week in a phone interview. “People are already finding correlations among disparate sets of data, but because Watson can understand concepts and interpret the direction of research, it can uncover relationships that are more subtle,”

“Even if I’m reading five papers a day, it could take me nearly 38 years to completely understand all of the research already available today on this protein,” explained Dr. Olivier Lichtarge, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, in today’s statement from IBM. “Watson has demonstrated the potential to accelerate the rate and the quality of breakthrough discoveries.”