Slava Akmaev, SVP & Chief Analytics Officer
The biggest obstacle facing the pharmaceutical industry is its innate inefficiencies in dealing with clinical trials and drug development. Unlike other sectors, fabricating and commercializing a product (drug) in the pharmaceutical realm is a tedious affair. For one, every year thousands of hypotheses and theories are proposed for drug development, out of which only a few make it to the research and manufacturing phase. Besides, research and development costs are huge, and ironically the procedure is plagued by human biases. The founders of the Boston-based biopharmaceutical company BERG sought to put an end to these challenges and laid the cornerstone of the firm in 2006. Pioneering the wave of data-driven approach, encircling technologies such as artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry, BERG has revolutionized the research and development framework of therapeutic drugs. In its decade-long existence, BERG has not only built an AI-driven platform for target discovery, identification of biomarkers, and drug repurposing but has also made significant progress in the study of in vitro research in conjunction with human and animal trials. “Our data-driven approach allows us to look at the data and the disease model in an unbiased way and identify unique molecular mechanisms, thus enabling us and our partners to create a unique footprint in the pharmaceuticals’ landscape,” says Slava Akmaev, SVP and Chief Analytics Officer at BERG.
While most pharmaceutical organizations rely on chemical libraries and hypothesis, BERG utilizes patients’ own biology to design and develop drugs, sorting and monitoring the patients based on the response to the trial drug, which promises more successful trials. This back-to-biology approach in the research and development spectrum is the underpinning vision behind the BERG Interrogative Biology®
platform. This turnkey platform combines and compares the clinical information obtained via drug research with that of the patients’ sample, and analyzes it with the help of AI powered analytics system, bAIcis®
. The entire process involves collecting patient samples from both diseased and healthy states, processing of samples via high throughput mass spectrometry, followed by thorough analysis of the molecular activities by the AI system.
Our data-driven approach allows us to look at the data and the disease model in an unbiased way and identify unique molecular mechanisms, thus enabling us and our partners to create a unique footprint in the pharmaceuticals’ landscape
This consolidation of data translates into a network of connections and cause-and-effect relationships, which can be further assessed by additional statistical analysis to reveal novel, first-in-class therapeutic targets and biomarkers for a disease, leading to new diagnostic tests and therapeutic treatments for patients. “Interrogative Biology®
is a technology platform, designed to answer the fundamental questions around new target identification, new biomarker identification, and deciphering mechanism of action of investigational compounds,” explains Akmaev.
Working in tandem with the research and development initiatives in the pharmaceutical realm, BERG has assisted many organizations to jumpstart drug development processes; identify biomarkers for clinical trials, drug repurposing, monitor patient response, and guide clinical trials. This is perfectly corroborated by the slew of success stories that BERG has yielded over the course of time. For instance, BERG’s assistance in the vaccine program for one of their clients proved extremely fructuous. The client was able to identify biomolecular markers of vaccine breadth and durability through the Interrogative Biology®
platform, which allowed them to analyze the influence of the vaccines on a certain population, and thereby, potentially develop more effective vaccines in the future.
Continuing the streak of innovations, BERG endeavors to complete the phase II study of pancreatic cancer by the end of this year. In addition, the firm envisions venturing into new therapeutic programs, one of which constitutes indulging in the study of Parkinson’s disease and developing investigational compounds thereof. From a diagnostic standpoint, BERG is invested in the commercialization of prostate cancer panel alongside making significant progress in breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease. BERG plans to mark its presence in the European and Asian markets in the forthcoming years and expand its platform beyond oncology and neurology in an attempt to serve a bigger audience.