Forbes InnovationRx: NEJM AI Editor Zak Kohane On AI Clinical Trials – Forbes

Plus: Why Nvidia, Google And Microsoft Are Betting Billions On Biotech’s AI Future
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Zak Kohane, the editor in chief of the journal NEJM AI, is also a pediatrician. He says his mission at the new publication is not that different from the guidance he gives the parents of his patients: “model good behavior.”
The speed of advancements in artificial intelligence are “moving much faster than most people recognize,” he said. The solution is to apply the gold standard of science and medicine: prospective clinical trials. This means watching the performance of these algorithms over time – not just examining how they performed in the past. “Our first goal is to get prospective trials of these AI programs that are thoughtful, that understand local variation, and therefore have the robustness we need,” Kohane told Forbes. He acknowledges that there are very few institutions with the time, money and resources to conduct these large-scale, multi-site trials: “We’re going to have to accept smaller trials, initially, and less complete trials initially, just because the world is not ready to deliver.”
However, there are a small handful of health systems that are already there and Kohane said he has been reviewing submissions and will be excited to publish some of these smaller trials involving generative AI models in the coming months. “They have an opportunity to provide both intellectual and general leadership in how these tools are deployed,” he said.

The world’s most powerful tech companies are looking ahead to drug discovery and digital biology.
As language models like ChatGPT and Gemini have ushered in a new age of AI in Silicon Valley, the world’s most powerful tech companies are looking to biotech as the next frontier in artificial intelligence.
At Nvidia, one of the few companies with a market cap in the trillions, the bulk of its venture capital investments over the past two years have been in drug discovery. At DeepMind, the Google AI lab’s AlphaFold model—a tool for predicting protein structures—has been used by academic researchers over the past year to develop a “molecular syringe” to inject medicine directly into cells.
While using AI in drug discovery is not exactly a new trend, executives at both DeepMind and Nvidia told Forbes that this is a breakthrough moment, thanks to a confluence of three things: the mass of training data now available, the explosion of computing resources and advancements in AI algorithms.
Read more here.

Precision Medicine: Healthcare technology company Zephyr AI, which is developing machine learning algorithms based on real-world patient data, announced it has raised a $111 million series A round.
Protein Synthesis: Tierra Biosciences, which is developing an AI-powered platform for custom protein synthesis, announced it has raised an $11.4 million series A round led by Material Impact.
GLP-1s: On Friday, the FDA approved Wegovy as a medication for reducing the risk of “cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke” in overweight or obese adults.
Bereavement Support: Empathy, which provides support for those who have lost loved ones that includes everything from grief management to probate, announced it has raised a $47 million series B round.
Glen Gowers, CEO and cofounder of Basecamp.
Scientists at London-based Basecamp Research announced that they’re a step closer to that goal thanks to a new AI model built on top of AlphaFold2’s open-source algorithms. Basecamp says its model, BaseFold, which is trained on a much broader dataset, can produce more accurate protein structure predictions than AlphaFold2. The company also announced it would be working with Nvidia to optimize BaseFold for use with the chip giant’s generative AI platform for drug discovery, BioNeMo.
Since its founding in 2020, Basecamp has been working with researchers around the world to sequence high-quality genomic information from tens of millions of microbes, plants and animals from around the world. Those researchers, in turn, are paid royalties from revenue generated by Basecamp for the data. It is this dataset, which is more extensive and higher quality than the public databases AlphaFold2 is trained on, that Basecamp credits with the performance of its model.
Read more here.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate UnitedHealth Group and its subsidiary Change Healthcare over last month’s cyber attacks that may have breached patient data.
Seventeen states have reported measles cases since the start of 2024, according to CDC data.
The average life expectancy of people across the world dropped by 1.6 years in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new Lancet study found.
Companies working on competitors to Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drugs include Viking Therapeutics, Zealand Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim and more.

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