According to a press release from Mateon Therapeutics, Mateon’s recent merger agreement with PointR Data establishes plans to combine the use of artificial intelligence and data collection for the development of new late-stage cancer treatments.
In the merger, PointR agreed to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mateon. With the fields of pharmaceutical technology and artificial intelligence growing at astounding leaps and bounds, it is perhaps little surprise that these two ventures teamed up with one another. Investigational treatments for gliomas, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer are all already in the new company’s exploratory pipeline.
About Gliomas, Melanoma, and Pancreatic Cancer
- Gliomas are tumors of the spine and brain that originate in glial cells — the network of support cells that surround neurons and give them structure. While some gliomas are benign and can be lived with for years with no adverse effects, others are highly aggressive. Glioblastoma multiforme is a particularly fast-growing and invasive kind of glioma tumor, one whose location and structure can make difficult to remove surgically. Glioblastomas are typically fatal in a relatively small amount of time — within around a year to a year and a half following diagnosis.
- Melanoma is a rare but serious form of skin cancer that originates in melanocytes — the cells that produce the melanin that gives your skin its color. The origins of melanoma aren’t completely understood, but exposure to ultraviolet radiation (typically through sunlight or tanning beds) has been observed to increase the risk of developing a melanoma.
- Pancreatic cancer is what it sounds like — a cancer that originates in the cells of the pancreas. However, the comparatively simple and non-intimidating name belies the highly aggressive and often fatal nature of pancreatic cancer. Like other cancers, pancreatic cancer is most treatable in its early stages, when surgery and various radiation or chemotherapies may have greater and faster impact. However, pancreatic cancer often isn’t treated until it has already reached an advanced stage, since, in early stages, only very few symptoms (if any) are noticeable. Under 10% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are still alive five years after receiving a diagnosis. Certain estimates suggest that as few as 10% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed while the cancer is limited to the pancreas, where it is most treatable.
Using AI to Develop New Treatments
Cancers are particularly difficult to develop new treatments for. This is partially because there are so many forms of cancer with unique causes and contributing factors. The ability of humans to analyze the thousands, if not millions, of potential factors associated with cancer is relatively limited. That’s why some companies are turning to computational power and artificial intelligence to fill the gap.
“AI-based cognitive technologies have the potential to streamline our clinical development strategy for the portfolio drug candidates,” said Mateon’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Fatih Uckun. By pairing with PointR, Mateon believes they can expand peer-to-peer data sharing (increasing the size of available data pools to analyze), improve existing data management and analysis, and enable more rapid selection of ideal clinical study sites.
With other biotechnology companies planning on expanding into artificial intelligence, more mergers similar to this one in the future are likely.
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