UCB has teamed up with IBM to "harness super-computer power" and help improve treatment for epilepsy patients.

The partners have announced the completion of the initial phase of a "pioneering project designed to harness the power of super computers and intelligent analytics" aimed at delivering personalised care for people with epilepsy. They add that "this exciting milestone marks the critical first step in the path towards eventually harnessing the power of cognitive computing capabilities", for patients.

The Belgium-based drugmaker and the computer giant are working together to create "the most comprehensive bank of scientific literature and patient data on epilepsy ever collated." They hope that once the initiative is completed, healthcare providers would be able to combine their own clinical patient assessment with the system’s predictive analytics "to determine the probability that specific approaches to care will be successful".

Iris Loew-Friedrich, UCB's chief medical officer, said "we recognise that delivering best-in-class solutions to patients requires collaboration with a diverse group of internal and external experts". Robert Merkel, head of healthcare and life sciences at IBM Global Business Services, added that technologies, "like analytics and cognitive computing applied to big data, are revolutionising the way we deliver and receive care".

He went on to say that IBM is "dedicating innovation and expertise to help UCB prove the predictive value of this technology". The latter added that it may look to collaborate with additional parties in the epilepsy and healthcare technology communities "to develop and broaden the reach of this project and improve long-term patient outcomes".

Phil Gattone, chief executive of the Epilepsy Foundation in the USA and a member of the project's advisory board, said his group is "very excited about the potential of this innovative approach for more personalised treatment management of epilepsy". He added that the collaboration "could benefit patients, their families and the healthcare system in a unique way".

UCB is a key player in the epilepsy arena and the bulk of its sales came from Keppra (levetiracetam) until it was recently hit by generic competition in the USA and Europe. Its newer antiepileptic Vimpat (lacosamide) is growing strongly and sales in 2012 were up 53% to 334 million euros.