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Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024

Research Company Leverages AI to Study Mutations

BIOTECH: Researchers Use AI and Mouse Avatars

A local cancer research company is using artificial intelligence (AI) and so-called mouse avatars to better understand how gene mutations are related to cancer. Certis Oncology Solutions is spearheading the study using charitable donations from San Diego-based nonprofit SOTERIA Precision Medicine Foundation.

Kristein King
Chief Marketing Officer
Certis Oncology Solutions

“[This] project will benefit all individuals who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime by advancing science in both functional precision oncology and AI-enabled predictive medicine,” explained Certis Chief Marketing Officer Kristein King.

Like the avatars you see in movies and video games, mouse avatars act as a substitute for humans. Certis’ mouse avatars are animal models of an individual’s unique form of cancer. “These models are created by engrafting fragments of human tumor tissue into immuno-compromised mice,” she explained. “Once we have several dozen fully tumored mice carrying tumors that very closely replicate the individual human patient, we can treat those mice with various therapies to test drug response to different options simultaneously.”

The fiscal sponsorship agreement signed in June will support Certis’ observational clinical research study aimed at validating the application of the mouse avatars as a clinically relevant platform for precision oncology and evaluating the clinical utility of the CertisAI platform. That platform tries to predict how drugs will respond to medication by identifying scientific matters and genetic biomarkers.

Dr. Long Do, PhD
Director of Bioinformatics
Certis Oncology Solutions

“By comparing the gene expression data collected from the patient’s sample with other experimental and clinical samples that have been treated with the same drug in the past, it can identify which drug is likely to have the best result for that individual,” said Certis Director of Bioinformatics Dr. Long Do, PhD.

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By using AI, scientists can cull through enormous amounts of data to identify patterns. “CertisAI identified patterns within the datasets that suggested people diagnosed with certain cancer types who had certain biomarkers would respond to certain drug combinations that are not currently considered standard-of-care for these cancer types,” said King.

To date, cancer care in the U.S. has largely relied on a “one size fits all” protocol – doctors treat whole populations of patients based on the tumor site or genetic mutations that may or may not be driving someone’s cancer. It’s not working. “For over 60 years, this reductionist approach to cancer treatment has produced outcome failure rates of 90% (±5),” King shared. “If [this] therapy fails, people with cancer generally undergo a series of trial-and-error treatments that often lead to toxic side effects, a diminished immune system, emotional stress and financial hardship. Not only does this process harm patients, it creates unnecessary expense within an already cost-burdened healthcare system.”

The company believes that leveraging AI may help patients for whom no traditional care options are available. Doctors can use hypothesis-generating drug sensitivity data that may help inform next-line treatment decisions. King added, “If AI-identified predictive biomarkers are validated [in the body], results from this project also may inform future clinical trials to determine whether using already-approved drugs in combination can effectively treat subpopulations of patients with unmet needs.”

Researchers hope to enroll their first 20 patients in the study before the end of 2023. Each study will take about half a year to complete, although the timeline is subject to vary. If all goes as planned, Certis may have initial results by mid-2024.

With SOTERIA’s help, Certis hopes to receive $1M in funding by the end of the year.

Certis Oncology Solutions

CEO & PRESIDENT: Peter Ellman
HEADQUARTERS: Sorrento Valley
WEBSITE: certisoncology.com
CONTACT: 858-952-1820
NOTABLE: In collaboration with other institutions, Certis published a 2023 study showing that rapidly implemented individualized drug response prediction models can help doctors fight deadly brain tumors.


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