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article imageMayo Clinic’s new startup to tackle diseases using AI

By Tim Sandle     Jul 18, 2017 in Health
Mayo Clinic and the technology company nference have launched an innovative new startup to discover, develop treatments for diseases that are not currently addressed through existing medical technology.
Central to the new company will be a mix of established medical expertise (from Mayo Clinic’s team) and artificial intelligence (using nference’s computer experts). The new company will be called Qrativ. The new organization will set-out to discover and develop treatments for diseases which have an unmet medical need. This includes a range of rare diseases affecting specific patient populations.
The reason why artificial intelligence and machine learning are needed is due the complexity of biological data, especially data in relation to uncommon diseases and the different drug combinations that the disease needs to be examined against.
Commenting on the initiative, Murali Aravamudan, who is the chief executive officer of both Qrativ and nference told Pharmaceutical Processing: “In the last three years, the artificial intelligence field has gained incredible momentum driven by major breakthroughs in deep learning neural networks.”
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Deep learning neural networks are artificial neural networks with multiple hidden layers between the input and output layers. These neural networks are used to model complex relationships, often allowing for handling multiple variables (which ties in with the new venture’s plan for drug screening against the different diseases). This type of deep learning forms part of a wider family of machine learning methods based on learning data representations.
The deep learning neural networks to be used by Qrativ will help to identify nascent drug-disease, drug-gene and other therapeutically-relevant associations drawn from an array of biomedical literature (and speeding up the science of informatics). These signals will then be triangulated with patient records and molecular drug evidence in order to accelerate drug discovery and development.
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Since the biggest breakthroughs in drug development have not happened systematically, it is hoped the multivariate approach of the artificial intelligence system will reap dividends. It may also turn out that existing drugs, used for one disease, will actually work against another. This results in what’s known as ‘drug purposing’.
Rare diseases: Most rare diseases are genetic, and thus are present throughout the person's entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear. Many rare diseases appear early in life, and about 30 percent of children with rare diseases will die before reaching their fifth birthday.
The start-up is groundbreaking in its use of artificial intelligence. The application of this type of computing remains uncommon in the arena of drug development. For the new application a bespoke system called the Darwin.ai platform has been developed.
For a different take on artificial intelligence developments, see Digital Journals's report "Why neuromorphic technology is the key to future AI."
More about Artificial intelligence, Diseases, rare diseases, Genetic diseases
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