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Adding AI to the mix
RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Current clinical trials often face issues when it comes to enrollment—particularly in the case of cancer, when trials seek patients with specific tumor types or mutations—and a great deal of that difficulty boils down to a lack of awareness on the patient end of the equation. In an effort to better match clinical trials with cancer patients, Cancer Genetics Inc. (CGI) and Mendel Health, an artificial intelligence company, have formed a strategic partnership to apply the abilities of Mendel.ai, Mendel Health’s deep-learning engine.
Though no specific details were released, the partners will work together to combine the capabilities of Mendel.ai with CGI’s disease-focused reports and testing results. CGI and Mendel Health estimate that early-access partners will be able to start using this system by the second quarter of the year, with a more extensive launch in the third and fourth quarters.
“Some cancer centers today fail to efficiently match patients, or they don’t do it because of the complexity of the task and the need to have a team or whole groups of teams set aside to do that,” says Panna Sharma, president and CEO of CGI. “This is a task that we think is perfectly suited for artificial intelligence—mining the scientific literature, mining the clinical trials data, picking out the criteria, sorting through the structured and unstructured data in the patient record as well as the data coming out of BGI. Mendel Health has a very focused deep-learning algorithm that performs better than anything else that we’ve seen, and it’s been trained by clinicians, by doctors.
“So this technology is really quite a breakthrough. It’s a great application of how to use AI in a fundamentally transformative way that empowers clinicians, helps patients, and leverages all the existing knowledge that’s already out there, but just does it faster and cheaper.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that less than 5 percent of cancer patients take part in clinical trials, despite the benefits of early access to novel, targeted therapies. A national survey of more than 1,000 individuals conducted by Research!America reported that fewer than seven out of 10 healthcare providers talk to their patients about clinical trials, and only 54 percent of patients feel that their treatment is based on the latest or best advancements.
“The world’s best cancer treatments are currently in trials, but that doesn’t assure that the patients that fit those trials are aware of their existence even after identifying an actionable biomarker. Traditional navigation tools are no longer realistic as trials are becoming more selective and treatments are becoming both more complex due to combinations and more targeted,” added Dr. Karim Galil, founder and CEO of Mendel Health. “By integrating Mendel’s proprietary AI technology, CGI is the first diagnostic company able to augment the oncologist’s decision making by continuously matching the patient’s data with emerging clinical trials, based on previous diagnostic tests and any shared clinical data or records. CGI’s clinical customers and the patients they serve today are able to make the most out of treatments being developed today, and not decades ago.”
Sharma expects this approach to benefit those conducting clinical trials as well, both in making it easier to identify the appropriate patients to accelerate recruitment, and even in planning trials by allowing researchers to evaluate if patients with certain biomarkers or tumor types are present in sufficient numbers.
“Emerging therapies, our knowledge of cancer and biomarker-driven insights are advancing extremely rapidly, and require a constant and vigilant technology-enabled approach to ensure that the best possible insights are made available to our patients and families,” Sharma said in a press release. “Artificial intelligence has advanced and impacted nearly every industry, and we believe it has the promise to transform laboratory based medicine. In an era where there is tremendous need to advance the innovative new therapies in unfilled trials with precisely matched patients that meet these increasingly complex enrollment criteria, Mendel.ai offers a timely, high-impact and ready-to deploy solution that we believe will make CGI more valuable to our customers and drive value for our shareholders.”