Pfizer has signed a deal with IBM Watson Health for use of its cognitive computing capabilities in the search for new cancer medicines.

The drug giant plans to employ newly-launched, cloud-based artificial intelligence platform Watson for Drug Discovery to help magnify its research efforts in immuno-oncology and accelerate the identification of potential new therapies.

The firm said it is one of the first organisations to deploy Watson for Drug Discovery, and the first to customise the tool to support the identification of new drug targets, combination therapies for study, and patient selection strategies in immuno-oncology.

Oncology researchers at Pfizer will use the tool to analyse massive volumes of disparate data sources, including licensed and publicly available data as well as the firm's own data, and test hypotheses "to generate evidence-based insights for real-time interaction", it said.

"With the incredible volume of data and literature available in this complex field, we believe that tapping into advanced technologies can help our scientific experts more rapidly identify novel combinations of immune-modulating agents," said Mikael Dolsten, president, Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development.

"We are hopeful that by leveraging Watson's cognitive capabilities in our drug discovery efforts, we will be able to bring promising new immuno-oncology therapeutics to patients more quickly."

Financial terms of the deal weren't revealed.