Israel-based startup Quris, has launched the world’s first AI platform for predicting which drug candidates will work safely in humans, which is significantly increasing efficacy and lowering drug development costs.
Under the scientific leadership of industry visionaries, including Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover and Dr. Robert S. Langer, co-founder of Moderna, Quris uses AI-powered miniaturized “patients-on-a-chip” to avoid the enormous risks and costs associated with failed clinical trials and to eliminate the reliance on ineffective animal testing.
Dual headquarters in Boston and Israel, Quris backed by strategic investors in biotechnology and big data. The company has raised a $9 million seed round led by Drs. Judith and Kobi Richter, pioneers of cardiovascular intervention treatments, with participation from Moshe Yanai, a disruptive data storage technology leader, and strategic angel investors.
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The funding will be used to help Quris revolutionize the drug development process by accelerating its novel drug therapy research, amplifying its partnership-building efforts, and significantly growing its team.
The company is led by an impressive founding team that holds 48 patents, has 12 FDA-approved products on the market, and previously used this AI approach to disrupt genomics, discovering more novel micro-RNA genes than all of the world’s universities combined.
The approach taken by the company is based on a large study conducted at Harvard University on the usage of so-called “organs on a chip.” These systems, which are still in their infancy but are gaining traction in the field, use a small amount of stem cell-derived tissue as a test bed for drugs or treatments, providing an accurate representation of how, for example, the human lung might respond to a combination of substances.
“We are on the verge of modernizing drug discovery. I believe the Quris platform has enormous potential to benefit pharmaceutical firms and society at large,” said Langer, a renowned Institute Professor at MIT and the most cited engineer in history.
“Simply put, we are not mice, and what works in animal trials does not always translate into what works in humans,” noted Ciechanover, MD, DSc. “By developing a novel method for testing medication candidates on tiny patients on chips, Quris can establish their safety and efficacy, or lack thereof, in preclinical chip-based trials. This has never been attempted previously, and Quris is paving the way.”
Quris, which will initially focus on uncommon genetic illnesses that cannot be modelled in animals, has said that it is preparing the platform’s first medicine for clinical trials in 2022. The first Quris medication is intended to treat Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most prevalent genetic cause of autism and intellectual disability worldwide.
“Our drug development process is flawed, and technology darlings in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data have failed to overcome the huge clinical trial failure rate,” noted Dr. Kobi Richter, Medinol’s creator and chief technology officer. “Led by an outstanding team of scientific pioneers and powered by an extraordinary clinical prediction platform, Quris will revolutionize the industry and usher in the next era of drug research.”
“We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in drug testing and development,” said Susan L. Solomon, JD, Founder and CEO of the NYSCF Research Institute and a new member of the Quris Advisory Board. “Our team of scientists is enthusiastic about our cooperation with Quris, which will exploit the synergy between our stem-cell automation technology and Quris’s amazing AI-Chip-on-Chip technology platform and team to improve drug safety prediction for individual patients.” To learn more about Solomon’s perspective on the potential of stem cell research, watch her TED Talk.
With 18 granted and pending patents, Quris’ chip-on-chip platform constantly trains the Quris AI engine and drug candidate safety and efficacy predictor using a unique combination of low-cost, disposable “miniaturized biology” chips and revolutionary real-time nano-sensor and nano-circulation chips. By combining the NYSCF’s power with Quris’s AI-based clinical prediction, high-throughput screening, and stem cell disease modeling capabilities, the Quris platform will be trained on known safe and toxic drugs, allowing it to rapidly screen thousands of potential drug formulations on hundreds of genetically diverse, miniaturized “patients-on-a-chip” to determine efficacy at a fraction of the cost.
“While AI applications in pharma have exploded in popularity, a critical piece of the drug discovery puzzle has remained missing, and the majority of novel medications continue to fail clinical trials, costing pharma companies more than $30 billion yearly,” Quris CEO Isaac Bentwich noted.