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International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) Watson To Be Used In DNA Testing Of Cancer Patients

The genomics product of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s Watson will be bundled into TruSight Tumor 170, a tool from Illumina which is used to assist in the matching the very ill patients of cancer with medication that might be of help to them. This is among the latest efforts by DNA sequencing firms to bring on board health care professionals working in cancer centers other than the major ones such as Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Final option

The motivation behind the move is to use results of DNA tests to assist patients who have no other alternative to get drugs that have already passed the approval process or are in the experimental stage. For non-small cell lung cancer in the late stages, this is the standard practice. It is not the case, however, with other cancers.

For Illumina, revenues from DNA sequencers comprise around ten percent of its yearly sales. This is around $240 million. Some of the buyers of the DNA sequencing machines include medical centers and firms such as NantHealth and Foundation Medicine which focus on selling the analysis obtained from the genetic tools to patients or health systems.

DNA sequencing

According to the vice president of Watson Health, Steve Harvey, the sequencing of DNA tumors could benefit around 2 million Americans. However, only less than 10% get to enjoy the benefits. But with Watson partnering with Illumina, it is hoped that it will be simpler and easier for healthcare facilities to begin conducting DNA sequencing.

“Illumina’s ability to bundle the Watson report along with the TruSeq 170 enables a cancer institute or a diagnostic lab to get up and running much quicker,” Harvey revealed.

Besides proving capable of interpreting genomic data at a faster rate than human pathologists, Watson was also able to detect items that pathologists missed. The software will be made available sometime this year and will come bundled with consumable reagent kit purchases. At the moment, the partnership between the two firms is for purposes of research only.

International Business Machines Corp rose by 1.35% on Wednesday to close the day at $165.75. Shares of Illumina, on the other hand, fell by 1.63% to end the day’s session at $162.35.

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