Guest Column | October 12, 2023

Future Funding, Trial Success Necessitates Use Of AI

By Garri Zmudze, managing partner and cofounder, LongeVC

AI-Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare-GettyImages-1365534802

While integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare sectors like drug development and telehealth has garnered acclaim, its pivotal role in revolutionizing clinical trials remains an unsung triumph. This transformation enables agencies to design better clinical trials, researchers to refine their subjects more effectively, and investors to allocate resources more productively. The result? An accelerated pace in delivering life-altering treatments to the market.

AI For Clinical Trial Design And Preparation

AI has fundamentally enhanced our understanding and predictive capabilities within clinical trials. It can paint a vivid picture of potential trial outcomes by analyzing a comprehensive data set that includes electronic health records, patient feedback, and even subtle cues from social media. One of the intriguing outcomes AI can generate is the likelihood of patient adherence to a specific treatment protocol based on historical adherence rates and social cues. Before the advent of such advanced computational techniques, several aspects, like patients' emotional feedback on treatments or indirect sentiments expressed on public platforms, took a lot of work to quantify and integrate into predictive models.

For instance, in traditional trial designs, determining the potential emotional impact of a drug's side effects on a patient's daily life was challenging. Were patients less likely to adhere to treatment because of the emotional toll of a particular side effect? Such questions were difficult to answer. However, with AI, data sourced from patient forums, reviews, and social media can be algorithmically analyzed to gauge sentiments and forecast adherence patterns based on emotional impacts.

For agencies responsible for sculpting clinical trials, this technological shift is revolutionary. They can harness AI-driven insights to craft trials with a heightened probability of success. Imagine a scenario where, based on AI predictions, a pharmaceutical company decides to tweak the dosing regimen of a drug to improve patient adherence, having identified that previous similar drugs had reduced adherence due to dosing inconvenience. They can significantly optimize the trial's potential outcome by making informed changes.

Companies and researchers increasingly leverage AI to conduct preliminary analyses on their products, drugs, or devices. One significant contribution of AI is in new target discovery and toxicity prediction.2 AI can play a pivotal role in addressing unmet medical needs by enhancing and accelerating the identification of new molecular targets, such as genes or proteins. Access to extensive pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) data sets — from successful and failed trials — is essential for these transformative insights. Drawing from this wealth of data, AI can develop and train reliable algorithms that craft new stable molecules with genuine therapeutic promise. However, a significant obstacle is the lack of published PK/PD data, often withheld for competitive or proprietary reasons, which hampers achieving the full potential of AI in new drug discovery.

With the foresight offered by AI insights, companies can discern the likelihood of a product clearing clinical trials, granting them the capability to refine, adjust, or enhance until the product is ideally positioned for success. The result? An accelerated introduction of effective treatments to the market and minimized unnecessary financial burdens.

Funding To Follow Adopters Of AI

The transformation of clinical trials is not merely the purview of agencies and researchers; AI's capabilities are widening the horizon for all stakeholders. With its sophisticated predictive algorithms, AI enables a preemptive assessment of products, devices, and drugs. How does it achieve this? AI can sift through vast amounts of data, analyzing previous trial outcomes, patterns, and variables, making it possible to anticipate which innovations are more likely to succeed in clinical trials. This assessment is not just speculative; AI's analysis considers numerous parameters — from molecular interactions to patient feedback — allowing for a comprehensive evaluation.

Such advanced foresight is invaluable to developers and investors, venture capitalists, universities, and research institutions. For them, the risk is a critical factor. In a world teeming with innovative ideas, the ability to accurately predict which will thrive in clinical trials is essential. In this context, venture capitalists and other investors are becoming increasingly discerning. Companies incorporating AI-driven analytics into their developmental processes are gaining traction. From an investment perspective, those not leveraging AI's predictive prowess might be disadvantaged, potentially missing out on opportunities and funding.

Historically, due to financial constraints, numerous pioneering concepts have stalled at the seed or pre-seed stage. But AI is revolutionizing this landscape. By efficiently navigating the maze of research and development, AI ensures that groundbreaking treatments garner the early funding and backing they merit. The result? There is a significantly higher chance of innovative treatments navigating the trial gauntlet, ensuring that life-changing therapies reach patients with unprecedented speed.

AI Transforms Clinical Trials

While the allure of AI doctors and innovative drug discoveries frequently captures attention, AI's transformation of clinical trials holds profound potential. The integration of AI into this domain is a challenging feat. Before reaping the benefits, there's a need to establish a proof-of-concept1, meticulously build a customized knowledge base, and rigorously train models to handle expansive problems. Crucially, these algorithms must be nurtured with vast data sets to eradicate biases and uphold accuracy. Fortunately, modern APIs allow for the seamless incorporation of cutting-edge advancements into clinical trial applications.

By automating repetitive tasks, AI not only hastens the journey of lifesaving drugs to the market but also liberates human professionals to channel their expertise into more specialized endeavors. Such optimization extends beyond mere operational efficiencies. When AI analyzes historical and ongoing trial data, it provides invaluable insights that can guide and enhance future research. For instance, we can anticipate superior study designs based on past successes and failures through machine learning.

In the grand scheme of things, the influence of AI may radically shift our focus. Rather than concentrating primarily on the mechanics of trial implementation, we could see a significant tilt toward accelerated drug discovery. This change is not just about streamlining processes; it's about ensuring patients, especially those in dire need, have swifter access to better, more effective treatments.



About The Author:

Garri Zmudze is an investor and advisor for deeptech companies developing life-changing solutions across biotech, medicine, longevity, and more. Garri is committed to building a world where everyone has more healthy years with their loved ones. He cofounded the Longevity Science Foundation, a global nonprofit funding early-stage research on extending the healthy human lifespan, in 2021. Garri is also cofounder and managing partner at LongeVC, a venture capital firm investing in visionary biotech and longevity. Outside of his work with LongeVC, Garri is one of longevity’s top angel investors and has had several successful exits across biotech and emerging tech. Garri is also an advisor for top companies across web3 and biotech.