Mesoblast Limited (Nasdaq:MESO; ASX:MSB), a world leader in developing allogeneic (off-the-shelf) cellular medicines, just announced that the first COVID-19 infected patients have been dosed with remestemcel-L, the company’s proprietary allogeneic cellular medicine. This study is conducted within the framework of the 300-patient randomized placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial underway in North America which focuses on patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) on ventilator support.
Personalized medicine has become a paradigm-shifting trend in healthcare - the hegemony of “one-size-fits-all” drugs is increasingly challenged by novel innovative modalities and therapies, laser-sharped for a specific group of patients, or even a single patient in some cases. This is a complex story, and the progress in personalized medicine will take time and tectonic shifts in the pharmaceutical research workflow.
On the other hand, the advent of personalized medicine is only possible with a more personalized system for health assessment, new robust biomarkers, and novel approaches to run and monitor clinical trials. This will require diagnostics that can provide sufficient insight into the metabolic status of individuals, and relatively new science of metabolomics is now taking off in the biotech industry.
Canada has a firm place in the global life sciences ecosystem, being the tenth largest market for pharmaceutical sales, and home to America’s second-largest life sciences corridor. The country has a long history of life science research, including the creation of the first pacemaker and discovery of stem cells.
According to a survey conducted by BIOTECanada and Deloitte in 2018, conducted in 2018, the Canadian life sciences sector includes many early-stage companies with substantial growth potential -- 67% of responders identified themselves as being in the discovery or emerging phase of development in 2017. Surveyed organizations reported intentions to raise additional capital in the coming years and reported access to capital as the primary issue in the life sciences sector in Canada.
There is a great deal of hype and a lot of misconceptions among life science experts as to how AI can or can’t be applied in pharmaceutical research and business. Judging by the rapidly increasing number of AI-involved deals and partnerships tapped by big pharma recently, it becomes obvious that life sciences decision-makers are eager to understand what this new and disruptive technology can bring to the table, and how it can be adopted efficiently with tangible ROI.
In order to get valuable first-hand insight and new ideas about the technology and its emerging role in the life sciences industry, I have asked several questions to Dr. Loubna Bouarfa, Founder and CEO at OKRA Technologies ― a leading AI company for healthcare, which builds a sophisticated AI-driven engine specialized in supporting faster and more accurate decisions for life science executives and field teams. Loubna is also a member of the European Union AI High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) and the winner of several prestigious awards, such as MIT Innovator Under 35 and Forbes Top 50 European Women in Technology. Last year, OKRA was named the Best Female-Led Startup at the StartUp Europe Awards.
Generative models have become one of the hottest areas in de-novo molecular design over just several years, basically revolutionizing our perception of what can be done with artificial intelligence in this area. One important aspect of generative models is that they can produce new quality hit molecules using combined data from various experimental and theoretical sources -- and output results rapidly.
One notable drug discovery startup betting on deep learning and generative models for innovative drug design is Vancouver-based Variational AI.