IBM Watson Health announced that Baheal Pharmaceutical Group will bring Watson for Genomics to clinicians across China. As IBM's primary channel partner for Watson for Genomics in China, Baheal will establish an ecosystem within China to sell the molecular data interpretation technology to clinicians and researchers across the country. The new multi-year agreement comes less than three months after Baheal and IBM launched a strategic alliance to distribute Watson for Oncology in China.
Last year, the Chinese government launched a $9.2 billion precision medicine initiative to invest in the growing field of genomics, which holds particular promise in oncology. Physicians and researchers have made groundbreaking discoveries on the genetic drivers of cancer, which in some cases turn out to be the best indicator for the right treatment. Yet, even if a patient's genome is sequenced, few doctors have access to the tools they need to turn that information into better treatment decisions. Precision oncology could help improve cancer survival rates in China, where one-fifth of all deaths are caused by cancer. Every year in China, more than 4.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer.
Watson for Genomics analyzes massive bodies of genomic, clinical and pharmacological knowledge to help uncover potential therapeutic options that target the tumor's genetic alterations. Then, Watson produces a report for physicians that identifies genetic alterations that are actionable based on literature as well as drugs and clinical trials that target those alterations. Watson for Genomics has been tested and validated at more than 20 leading cancer institutes worldwide, and is now commercially available.
"Despite the promise of precision medicine, data-driven challenges make it difficult for oncologists to bring genomic advances to their patients," said Gang Fu, chairman, Baheal Pharmaceutical Group. "We believe Watson will help accelerate this growing field so that research advances can be accessed for patient benefit more quickly. We are proud to now serve as IBM's primary distribution channel for both Watson for Genomics and Watson for Oncology."
Baheal Group has a proven track record delivering value to hospitals across China working with more than 12,000 hospitals today, and the company has already implemented Watson for Oncology at 8 hospitals.
"With the rapid proliferation of clinical, research and genomic data, we are proud to work with Baheal Group to bring the promise of cognitive computing to doctors and researchers all across China," said Rob Merkel, general manager of Oncology and Genomics, IBM Watson Health. "Watson for Genomics can empower oncologists to deliver genomic insights to their patients faster and easier than it can now be done. We believe this has the power to scale expertise and ultimately help oncologists make more informed decisions."
IBM Watson Health is actively partnering with organizations like Baheal within China's healthcare and technology community to establish an ecosystem that will bring the benefits of machine learning into clinical practice to serve the needs of doctors and patients while maintaining compliance with local laws and regulations, including data privacy and security requirements.