Mayo Clinic and nference launch startup to develop drugs for rare diseases

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 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 opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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