Novartis and IBM Watson are teaming up in a “ground-breaking collaboration” that aims to marry machine learning with real-world data to improve outcomes in advanced breast cancer.

The parties are planning to explore the development of a ‘cognitive solution’ that will provide better insights on the expected outcomes of breast cancer treatment options, in the hope of helping doctors to tailor therapy and advise clinical practice guidelines.

Watson, an artificial intelligence system delivered through the cloud, analyses high volumes of data, is able to understand complex questions asked in ‘natural language’ and propose evidence-based answers. The system continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions.

“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,” said Anil Jain, chief medical informatics officer of IBM Watson Health.

“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."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.