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COVID-19, Insilico Medicine, Discngine, And More: News From April 2020



April 29, 2020 | April featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including Discngine and Insilico Medicine, as well as recent attempts to combat COVID-19.

The bio-IT community has been working around the clock to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies and universities such as MIT, CSIRO, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have concentrated their efforts to develop a COVID-19 Research Database, specialized proteins to combat immune overreaction to the virus, promising animal models, and much more. Roundup

Digital Science announced a partnership with Zhipu.AI to conduct data challenges and collaborate in building a COVID-19 information portal. This strategic collaboration will see the two companies work together on a broad range of projects over the next several years. Some of the existing opportunities planned for the collaboration include joint hosting of a new set of data challenges centered around scholarly communications problems such as name disambiguation; and bringing together advanced analysis tools from both companies to create deeper insights for the sector. Collaboration will be a central theme of the new relationship and will see Digital Science's Overleaf made more seamlessly available to more Chinese users, enabling them to create, edit and publish their research all from one browser using the real-time collaborative LaTeX editor. Press release

OptraHEALTH announced that Advagenix has implemented GeneFAX to assist their patients with accurate information about genetic health. GeneFAX, a flagship product of OptraHEALTH, is an AI-powered HIPAA compliant, knowledge platform for genetic health with BOT interfaces. By employing this AI-enabled technology BOT, AdvaGenix will collect information about their patients’ family history of cancer as well as understanding reproductive health issues. Patients will then get automatically directed to the right tests to AdvaGenix through GeneFAX. “There has been a heavy focus on enabling direct-to-consumer genetic testing over the last few years, but we cannot forget that most of this testing is still being ordered in a clinic. We want to make sure that physicians, genetic labs and patients are at the center of everything we develop,” said Dr. Gauri Naik, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OptraHEALTH, in a press release. “GeneFAX will assist AdvaGenix to better engage with their patients for Hereditary Cancer & Reproductive Genetic Health diagnostic testing and promote their testing panels in appropriate healthcare settings.” Press release

Insilico Medicine announced it has entered into a research collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to utilize Insilico's generative machine learning technology and proprietary Pandomics Discovery Platform with the aim of identifying potential therapeutic targets implicated in a variety of diseases. "Insilico Medicine is very impressed with the Research Beyond Borders group at Boehringer Ingelheim capabilities in the search of potential drug targets. In this collaboration, Insilico will provide additional AI capabilities to discover novel targets for a variety of diseases to benefit the patients worldwide. We are very happy to partner with such an advanced group," said Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder, and CEO of Insilico Medicine, in a press release. "We believe that Insilico's exclusive Pandomics platform will provide huge boost to our ability to explore and identify drug targets. We look forward to using AI to significantly improve the drug discovery process and contribute to human health," Dr. Weiyi Zhang, Head of External Innovation Hub, Boehringer Ingelheim Greater China, said in an official statement. Press release

Lifebit Biotech announced a major new release of Lifebit CloudOS, the end-to-end cloud operating system that accelerates genomics research and delivers enriched insights in personalized medicine. Building upon its federated technology, Lifebit CloudOS 2.0 integrates the Biobank Data Browser, allowing users to store and query massive sets of genomic, phenotypic, multi-omic, medical record and other structured data generated by biobanks, such as UK Biobank. Facilitating data exploration, analysis, and discovery, Lifebit CloudOS 2.0 empowers R&D teams to leap forward research and cures. The Biobank Data Browser enables researchers to effortlessly explore and analyze the full complement of genomics and phenotypic data available in biobanks. In addition, the powerful JupyterLab integration eases barriers to complex data analyses for researchers of all levels. Since it is built to scale to 10+ million individuals and 3+ billion variants, Lifebit CloudOS 2.0 seamlessly handles increasing biobank data collections and data points. More info

Biofourmis announced it has finalized an agreement to acquire Gaido Health from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a strategic deal that expands Biofourmis' portfolio in the oncology space. Gaido Health—a Los Angeles-area based digital therapeutics company focused on the oncology market—was part of Takeda Digital Ventures, Takeda's corporate technology investment and incubation arm. The acquisition seeks to address a disconnected oncology care pathway that has led to more than 30% of patients on chemotherapy being readmitted to the hospital or requiring a visit to the emergency department. In the United States alone, 1.6 million patients are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the total cost of care is expected to rise to $170 billion in 2020. "Biofourmis' digital therapeutics solution for oncology—now bolstered with this acquisition of Gaido Health—is based on an innovative approach that continuously monitors patients' physiology biomarkers and symptoms, detects early signs of complications, and arms care teams with tools to intervene early to prevent medical crises, improve outcomes and lower costs," said Kuldeep Singh Rajput, CEO of Biofourmis, in a press release. "The platform also empowers patients with cancer to self-manage symptoms using Biofourmis' artificial intelligence [AI]-based Biovitals treatment algorithms, which improves engagement and quality of life." Gaido Health's solution, which will be supported by Biofourmis' existing Biovitals platform, combines information on vital signs collected via remote monitoring in the home, patient surveys and analytics to detect early signs of complications in patients with cancer who have been recently discharged from the hospital. Gaido Health's AI-based algorithms detect signs of complications to inform the clinician, enabling earlier interventions. Press release

Veracyte and Yale University announced an exclusive licensing agreement to advance the first genomic test for predicting disease progression in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The agreement gives Veracyte rights to a 52-gene signature developed by Yale researchers, for use on the nCounter FLEX Analysis System – Veracyte’s exclusively licensed diagnostics platform. Veracyte plans to make the non-invasive, blood-based test available as a complement to its Envisia Genomic Classifier, as part of a comprehensive offering to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with IPF. The 52-gene signature in peripheral blood, developed by Dr. Naftali Kaminski, chief of the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Yale University’s School of Medicine, and collaborators, is shown to predict rapid disease progression among patients with IPF. “We are excited to advance groundbreaking research from Dr. Kaminski and his team into a commercially available, first-of-its-kind genomic test that may further help guide care for patients with IPF,” said Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a press release. “The addition of prognostic information to our Envisia classifier, which is already available as a genomic tool to help improve IPF diagnosis, enhances the value of this test for physicians and patients as we prepare it for global market expansion on the nCounter platform in 2021. This agreement was enabled by Veracyte’s December 2019 acquisition of the exclusive global diagnostics rights to the nCounter platform, and further underscores the strategic value of that transaction to our company.” Press release

Scopio Labs announced it has received CE mark certification for its X100 Full Field Peripheral Blood Smear (Full Field PBS) all-digital morphology analysis platform. As the first digital microscope to scan and analyze entire regions of interest from a slide in high resolution, Full Field PBS enables remote consultation and includes a computer-vision based decision support system, advancing manual microscopy into the digital age. Accelerating the diagnostic process by scanning and digitizing large areas of the slide in high resolution, Scopio Labs helps facilitate efficient review of digital slides and uses its built-in AI tools to compile a detailed report that can also be remotely shared with experts. The Full Field PBS offers an end-to-end decision-support tool for clinicians. Its digitized scans are reconstructed with cutting-edge computational photography tools at 100X equivalent magnification and at oil-immersion resolution levels. Built-in machine learning tools then pre-classify cells within the slide and create a data summary of the results. The image data, as well as the data summary, can be reviewed by experts in multiple locations – in the lab that generated the samples, and in other labs within the organization's network. Scopio Labs platforms are scalable, suit a variety of both large and small labs, easily integrate with standard processes and are market-ready. Press release

Discngine announced that Sosei Heptares has selected its 3decision software to be part of a structural GPCR chemogenomics platform. Sosei Heptares will use 3decision to unify the public Protein Data Bank (PDB) structures with internal unpublished GPCR structures used for structure-based drug discovery, thus allowing Sosei Heptares to combine the wealth of its unique structural information, sequence information and knowledge of chemical ligand space in GPCRs. 3decision will enable Sosei Heptares scientists to derive unprecedented structural GPCR insights more efficiently from the structural data at hand. This knowledge will directly benefit the internal structure-based drug design (SBDD) projects and help to further reinforce Sosei Heptares’ strong expertise in GPCR structural cheminformatics. In addition, 3decision will make it easier for Sosei Heptares to combine the unique structural information with GPCR modelling, cheminformatics capabilities, mutagenesis data and the information provided by their StaR (Stabilized Receptor) technology. For example, 3decision will allow Sosei Heptares to easily visualize and analyze mutagenesis data in 3D, via a web-accessible front-end. Press release

Genomenon announced that the latest release of the Mastermind Genomic Search Engine includes the ability to search by therapy. Mastermind users can now query the comprehensive database of genomic evidence for over 180,000 drugs, therapies, and other interventions. This new offering furthers Genomenon’s ability to catalogue a complete dataset of all “Genomic Associations” supported by medical evidence. These associations help clinical labs more accurately and rapidly diagnose patients, and pharmaceutical companies make ground-breaking discoveries in the effective treatment of cancer and other genetic diseases. Mastermind was launched in 2017 with the ability to uncover associations between diseases, genes, and variants, and has since added ACMG/AMP classification, phenotypes, and now therapies. Each new component of association data increases the power of Mastermind to allow users to find genetic evidence, test or generate hypotheses, and draw clinical conclusions with confidence. Searching by therapy provides significant value for oncologists making decisions on third-line therapies, where approved drugs or clinical trials are no longer effective for a cancer patient. Finding a comprehensive list of all therapies in the medical research tied to a cancer patient’s genetic make-up is invaluable for treating these late-stage cancer patients. The new search capability is also highly useful for clinicians making diagnostic and treatment decisions for patients with rare diseases. There are currently less than 800 FDA approved therapies for over 7,000 rare diseases, leaving many patients without an approved treatment option. In these cases, clinicians are required to scour the medical literature to find therapies associated with the patient’s genetic profile; a time-consuming and often fruitless task. Press release

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