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Company Formed to Boost Clinical Trial Success Odds

Human machine interface

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.

28 Sept. 2022. A pharma/tech industry group is starting a new company to use algorithms for finding gaps in preclinical data that can impair clinical trial progress. Omec.Ai is the start-up enterprise being formed by AION Labs in Rehovot, Israel, a joint venture of pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, and Teva, with the Israel Biotech Fund and Amazon Web Services.

AION Labs aims to apply artificial intelligence and other computational techniques across the pharmaceutical industry to find solutions to long-standing problems affecting industry performance. Omec.Ai, says AION Labs, is the first new company formed by the consortium, in this case to improve the odds of success for treatment candidates in clinical trials, based on the data generated in preclinical studies. Even with advanced analytics from data produced through genomics and related “omics” technologies with tissue and single-cell profiling, says AION Labs, many drug candidates still fail in clinical trials, due to safety issues or efficacy shortfalls.

AION Labs traces some of the continuing problems to lack of consistency in preclinical data, making it difficult for biotech and pharma companies to assess the predictive value of preclinical findings. “There is currently no automated solution,” says Omec.Ai co-founder and CEO Ori Shachar in an AION Labs statement released through Cision, “that employs all preclinical data in a way that allows a reliable assessment of the clinical trial readiness of a drug candidate. We are aiming to fill this gap.”

New business formed to create proposed solution

AION Labs holds crowd-sourced challenge competitions to identify promising teams and solutions to intractable issues in drug development. The consortium works with BioMed X, a research institute in Heidelberg, Germany that sponsors crowd-sourced studies in molecular, cell, and computational biology, and diagnostics by scientists in academic labs and start-up companies. The winning entry is selected to form a new business to pursue its solution, with funding, mentorship, and datasets provided by the sponsors.

In 2021, Science & Enterprise reported on two other AION Labs challenges, to apply computational techniques to design and development of antibodies. In Feb. 2021, AION Labs put out a call for a new A.I. technology that enhances existing antibody treatments. And in Oct. 2021, AION Labs issued a challenge for algorithms that help design new synthetic antibodies.

AION Labs opened the competition for preclinical data assessment in December 2021, sponsored by drug makers Pfizer, Merck, and AstraZeneca that are also the primary investors in Omec.Ai. The Israel Innovation Authority that promotes industrial R&D in the country is also an investor. In addition, the pharmaceutical companies are providing data sets to help build and train machine learning algorithms. Plus, Amazon Web Services is providing technical resources.

Omec.Ai is still in formation. “With the support of AION Labs and its partners,” adds Shachar, “we hope to develop a cutting-edge solution to significantly improve the probability of success of drug candidates that make it to the clinical trial phase.”

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Disclosure: The author owns shares in Pfizer.

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