- By Duska Anastasijevic
Mayo Clinic, nference launch a startup to discover, develop treatments for diseases with unmet medical need
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., and ROCHESTER, Minn. – Today, Mayo Clinic and nference launch a startup company for drug development that will be powered by clinical expertise and artificial intelligence (AI). The company, named Qrativ (pronounced cure-a-tiv) will combine nference’s AI-driven knowledge synthesis platform with Mayo Clinic’s medical expertise and clinical data. Qrativ seeks to discover and develop treatments for diseases with unmet medical need. This effort is being boosted by an $8.3 million Series A financing supported by Matrix Capital Management, Matrix Partners and Mayo Clinic. Qrativ’s initial focus will be on rare diseases and highly targeted patient populations.
The explosion of new data regarding the biology of disease has far outpaced the human ability to consume and make sense of it, creating a challenge for scientists working to translate biomedical data into new treatments.
“In the last three years, the AI field has gained incredible momentum driven by major breakthroughs in deep learning neural networks,” says Murali Aravamudan, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qrativ and nference. “Our core technology based on a neural network ensemble identifies nascent drug-disease, drug-gene and other therapeutically-relevant associations from the vast biomedical literature. The spatio-temporal signals are triangulated with real-world phenotypic and molecular evidence amassed from systemic and longitudinal patient care, which we believe can significantly accelerate drug discovery and development.”
Uncovering potential new therapeutic indications for drugs that is powered by AI is still rare in today’s drug development process.
“The ingenuity of Qrativ is that it will combine clinical insight and clinical need from Mayo Clinic with robust informatics capabilities,” says Andrew Badley, M.D., co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Qrativ. “By taking into account genomic predictors of both desired treatment response and unwanted toxicity, Qrativ will be able to identify potential drug candidates more swiftly. “This will enable us to use nference’s big data capabilities to define highly targeted patient populations and then leverage the deep clinical expertise of Mayo clinicians to design and implement optimal proof of concept trials to meet the unmet needs of our patients.”
The company’s Darwin.ai platform will combine nference’s knowledge synthesis platform with the clinical expertise of Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists.
It has been shown that drugs have been successfully repurposed for rare diseases in the past, but this course of action has typically happened late in the development process and not in a systematic manner. Systematic drug repurposing starting in the early stages of drug development could identify and accelerate new treatments for diseases with unmet medical need.
“This is a bold step for Mayo Clinic and complements our patient-centered care approach with an innovative way to uncover new therapeutic indications for drugs in the collective industry pipeline,” adds Dr. Badley who also is Director of the Office of Translation to Practice at Mayo Clinic. “It enables us to search for all possible uses of a drug starting at the early stages of development. That’s why we call this approach ‘drug purposing’ and not ‘repurposing.’ Through these collaborations, we hope to maximize every drug’s potential for as many patients and diseases as possible.”
“Solving unmet needs of the patients requires a union of forces,” says Clark Otley, M.D., Medical Director, Department of Business Development at Mayo Clinic. “This collaboration is an example of our commitment to swiftly bring effective life-changing therapies to patients.”
The Qrativ management team brings together clinical leadership from Mayo Clinic and a team of successful serial entrepreneurs from the tech and biotech worlds, and biology and genomic researchers out of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Qrativ will be led by Murali Aravamudan; Dr. Badley; Venky Soundararajan, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Qrativ and nference; and Agustin Lopez Marquez, Vice President, Business Development and Marketing of Qrativ and nference.
Mayo Clinic and Dr. Andrew Badley have a financial interest in Qrativ. Mayo Clinic will use any revenue it receives to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research.
Qrativ is reinventing the way treatments for diseases with unmet medical need are discovered and developed. Formed by Mayo Clinic and nference, Qrativ combines nference’s knowledge synthesis platform, and Mayo Clinic’s medical expertise and clinical data to enable systematic drug purposing. Starting in the early stages of drug development, Qrativ partners can leverage the company’s drug purposing platform, Darwin.ai, to search for all possible uses of a drug candidate, including identifying potential rare disease indications and find subsets of patients who may respond favorably to a given candidate. Through these partnerships, Qrativ will aim to maximize every drug’s potential for as many patients and diseases as possible. For more information, visit qrativ.bio.
Powered by its artificial intelligence software platform, nferX, nference's mission is to synthesize the exponentially growing biomedical knowledge. nferX uses state-of-the-art neural networks (shallow and deep learning models) for real-time, automated extraction of knowledge from the commercial, scientific and regulatory body of literature. The platform enables a diverse set of applications ranging from R&D to commercial strategy and operations in the life sciences ecosystem. The long-term goal of the nferX platform is to become the connecting fabric of the various silos of information that exist across health care. Founded by Murali Aravamudan and Venky Soundararajan, Ph.D., nference is led by a multidisciplinary team of serial entrepreneurs from the tech and biotech worlds and PhDs in Biology/Genomics from MIT and Harvard Medical School. The investors in nference are Matrix Partners and Matrix Capital Management. For more information, visit nference.ai.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.