The technology company IBM has long been a major player in the field of information technology. Now IBM has announced that it is bringing its expertise and experience to another area — the investigation of Type 1 diabetes. IBM will partner with the New York-based organization JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which for nearly half a century has been a leading global organization dedicated to funding research on Type 1 diabetes.
The amount of data that researchers have collected on Type 1 diabetes is huge, which is why IBM’s capabilities should prove so valuable. IBM will apply its machine-learning techniques to this accumulation of research to learn what causes Type 1 diabetes in children and to explore ways in which the disease could be treated or even prevented. Specifically, IBM plans to examine three separate data sets and compare them to previously collected data. The plan is that by scrutinizing the specific areas of genetics, familial variables, and autoantibodies, the researchers will be able to find a group of characteristics common to all the data sets. Once those are known, they then hope to determine the top risk factors for Type 1 diabetes. According to Jessica Dunne, the director of the JDRF’s Prevention Program, “With IBM’s technology and analysis, we are opening up the possibility of developing personalized approaches for prevention and, ultimately, curing Type 1 diabetes.”
The pilot program is scheduled to run until the end of 2018, when the initial results should be in. Then, if everything works out, IBM and the JDRF hope to forge a lasting partnership in pursuit of an ambitious goal — the eradication of Type 1 diabetes.