Healthcare solution company Roche Latvia has signed an agreement with the first new company to take part in Roche's Innovation Incubator – AIMuno. The project involves the use of artificial intelligence for the improvement of efficacy in lung cancer treatment.
The AIMuno goal is to create a biomarker which will utilise artificial intelligence to process patient’s data and make predictions on the potential efficacy of immunotherapy in different groups of patients for further treatment choice.
"The aim of the project is to study the morphology and genetics of lung cancer samples to figure out whether patients can benefit from immunotherapy which helps the immune system identify and destroy tumor cells," explains AIMuno Board member Vismands Menjoks.
"There is an unmet need in understanding why only around 20% of patients respond to immunotherapy and precisely identify those patients who will benefit from this type of treatment," comments Valeria Kogan, co-founder of SmartOmica and a Board member of AIMuno.
AIMuno is working on an AI-based solution to identify patients for whom the therapy will work, as opposed to those who will not benefit from it. The developed solution can be further used by the pharma as a companion diagnostic to support specific drug prescription or used by diagnostics companies to study patients’ samples and provide the doctors with more personalised treatment recommendations to improve treatment efficacy and optimise the use of clinical resources.
"We are proud of our agreement with the AIMuno team and the first project supported by the Roche Innovation Incubator," says Roche Latvia Director Rauls Vēliņš. "I am delighted that there are sparks in the eyes of the AIMuno team and that they want to create innovations in the area of medicine. The idea from this new company of using artificial intelligence and computer vision is a non-standard solution that offers hope. We were also encouraged by the fact that the new company has international contacts, which may be of decisive importance in selling the products that are being developed. A recommendation from an advisor to Latvia's president, Rolands Lappuķe, was also important. We feel that this project is an example of how Latvia can be a place where experts from all around the world come together to work in biotechnology solutions with a high level of added value."
"The synergy between smart technologies and the medical sector has become more and more powerful each year, offering solutions which help people to improve their quality of life," says R. Lappuķe, who advises Latvia's president in the area of smart technologies. "Such projects are very welcome because they prove the potential of Latvia's biomedicine ecosystems that are being developed. They can be among the leaders in the area of such technologies."
The director of the Technology Department of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, Lauma Muižniece, argues that such support instruments for researchers and business people are of great importance. "It is not just financing that is essential in the development of new products and technologies," she says. "There must be also a reciprocal link with potential clients and partners to make sure that the idea is sustainable and can be developed further. Advice from experienced professionals from the sector at an early stage of product development can help avoid various risks, as well as to identify the most promising directions for the use of the product or technology. We really appreciate such initiatives from the private sector, with experienced companies sharing their experience and supporting new entrants into the market -- both new companies and researchers, thus creating an open environment for the development of innovative solutions that can be raised to an entirely new level."
Health care solution company Roche Latvia established its Innovation Incubator in July 2020, and by July 27 it had announced its first project competition. The focus was on processing and analyzing morphological materials related to lung cancer and on development of artificial intelligence in this area. The aim of the incubator is to facilitate and support the preparation of new and innovative ideas, as well as research in specific areas of health care and the creation of new and relevant products and/or services. The incubator is a permanent platform for new ideas, and support from Roche Latvia will be provided for those who wish to develop ideas about innovative solutions. If the idea is already in process and the need is to continue its development and research, the support recipient can seek practical and consultative support from Roche Latvia. This can involve office space, equipment, specialist consultations, etc. The principle of the Innovation Incubator is that the maximum period for developing detailed ideas is three months after the partnership agreement is concluded. After those three months, a team evaluates what has been achieved and decides on whether to continue the partnership. If it is shown during the development of an idea that it can be turned into a product or service and that financial or other support is needed to continue to develop it and/or to release it into the market, then the partnership agreement can be extended, and Roche Latvia may sign another agreement on the provision of financing for the further pursuit of the idea.
Roche is the world's largest biotech company, designing and manufacturing special medications to treat diseases related to oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and the central nervous system. Roche is also a world leader in the area of in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics. It is also on the front lines when providing treatment for diabetics. More than 30 medications from Roche are on the list of essentially important medications of the World Health Organisation. Among them are live-saving antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs, and medications to treat cancer. The Roche Group is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It operates in more than 100 countries, and in 2019 it had some 98,000 employees all around the world. During 2019, Roche invested 11.7 billion Swiss francs (CHF) in research and development, and the company's revenues amounted to CHF 61.5 billion. The Roche Group also owns the Genetech company, which is in the United States, and it is a majority shareholder in the Chugai Pharmaceutical company in Japan. According to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Roche has been one of the most sustainable companies in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 11 years.
AIMuno is a Latvian biotech company founded by Vismands Menjoks and Smartomica. Smartomica is a biotech company focused on the development of comprehensive AI-based platform solutions for personalised medicine. The unique feature of Smartomica's approach is in combination of proprietary methodology of patient data management and AI-machinery for its integrative analysis in order to build personalised clinically applicable patient-centric solutions.