Fighting Cancer with Artificial Intelligence
I’m thrilled to announce that after having been an advisor to zPredicta for more than a year, I’ve recently stepped into the role of Executive Chairman.
What if we could eliminate the need for animal testing in drug trials and at the same time advance the cause for a cure for most deadly diseases with the most sophisticated technology at our disposal?
While we won’t get there overnight, it’s at least worth a thought and if anything it would be a welcome “side-effect” of applying some of the most awesome technology in recent history in the fight against deadly diseases like cancer. So, why wouldn’t we do that?
How do we get there?
The team at zPredicta has already done an amazing job creating their current product line. 3D cell cultures aka Reconstructed Organ (r-Organ™). These are (patent-pending) predictive bio-assays to test cancer drugs for certain types of cancers. The product essentially creates a physical test-bed for anti-cancer drugs on human organs that’s virtually indistinguishable from the actual human organ, making it highly efficient and accurate compared to traditional testing methods. It also eliminates the need for using animals as the test subjects. You can learn more about that here. What’s new here is that we’re moving from 2D (petri dishes) to 3D (reconstructed organs) and thus dramatically increasing the accuracy and predictive performance of any given test scenario.
Since rolling out these “kits” last year there have been thousands of tests conducted by some of the worlds largest pharmaceutical drug companies. The results are not only promising, zPredicta has essentially successfully introduced a new era of testing pre-clinical cancer drugs. But why stop here?
Phase II — BioTech meets Computer Science and AI
When Julia and I first sat down in early 2016 and she explained to me what they are doing it became clear very quickly that this could be a whole new way of finding a cure for all kinds of diseases. Coming from the software world, I wasn’t exactly sure until then how I could be of any help. But then it became clear. We could use all the data created by the above 3D cell cultures and create a powerful Bio-Simulation platform powered by AI. And that is very much down my power-alley. See the section below for more info on Bio-Simulation.
One of the reasons I’ve joined zPredicta in a more involved role is that we’ve identified three major catalysts that are all playing out right now or within the very near future. All of them play to our advantage:
1. High-throughput capacity testing
2. Global industry move towards immunotherapy and personalized disease treatment
3. Need for computational bio-simulation (powered by AI)
High-throughput, is a scale-out version of the current product lines to move them from manual, labor intensive testing to fully automated test environments within customer workflows. In other words we’re moving from manual mode, where the lab technician literally fills each plate by hand to robotic-powered liquid fillers that can do thousands of runs at a time.
Immunotherapy & personalized treatment. While conventional methods (surgery, radiation and chemo) are still commonplace in today’s treatment of cancer, approaches such as immunotherapy are no longer just promising but proven that they could be the ultimate weapon against cancer. The pharma industry has also shifted a major portion of their attention towards personalized treatment option. zPredicta’s aforementioned approach is an ideal application for any kind of approach to Immunotherapy related cancer drugs.
A Bio-Simulation platform will literally eliminate all the constraints that “physical testing” is currently being limited by. For example, the amount of time it takes to come up with the actual molecules and the testing of each one of them could be either shortened by several orders of magnitude if not outright eliminated. zPredicta’s advantage here is that we not only have our own feature-rich dataset to operate from, with the advent of high throughput testing it will enable us to have have a tremendous and sustainable position thanks in large part to the underlying bio assay’s, which become part of the overall solution.
I couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to apply AI to arguably one of mankind's most pressing needs: accelerating and advancing the cause for finding a cure for deadly diseases. I’m looking forward to work closely with the amazing two Co-Founders Julia Kirshner, Mukti Parikh & team to learn a lot more about BioTech while helping and navigating the waters of software and AI.