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Israeli Biotech startup combines AI and immunology to better predict drugs

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Thursday, May 16th, 2019

The world of pharmaceutical drug development and discovery is notoriously complex, expensive, and slow-moving. It can take billions of dollars and between a decade or two from the research and development stage to market approval.

And rightly so. After all, human lives are at stake.

But imagine if you could feed data about a new pharmaceutical drug into a software system that can then tell you which patients with which diseases will respond to the drug – all without having to run large-scale clinical trials?

That is exactly what Israeli startup CytoReason has developed. Founded in 2016 by scientists and researchers from the Technion and Stanford, the company built what it is calling the world’s first and only machine learning platform that can quantify a person’s immune system at a cellular level in order to better understand disease responses and treatments, and facilitate the discovery and development of more effective drugs. The simulations are applicable to cancer immunotherapy, and autoimmune, neurodegenerative and infectious disease research.

CytoReason has running collaborations with three top, global pharmaceutical companies including British multinational GlaxoSmithKline (gsk) and US-based multinational Pfizer, and with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a leading US research institution that coordinates cancer research efforts between scientists, clinicians, and industry partners.

“Essentially, we are aggregating human data on a molecular level,” CytoReason co-founder and CEO David Harel tells NoCamels from the company’s offices on the 34th floor in one of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli towers.