Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Online community PatientsLikeMe is collaborating with a Chinese health-focused artificial intelligence (AI) company to apply machine learning and new biological measures to better understand human health and disease.
The US firm is one of seven firms joining Shenzhen-based iCarbonX's Digital Life Alliance, the ultimate aim of which is to 'digitise and analyse all aspects of life'.
For its part PatientsLikeMe will receive a share of iCarbonX's $400m investment in firms joining the Alliance and the tech company's founder, genomicist Jun Wang, has also taken a minority stake in the online community.
In return iCarbonX will provide 'multi-omics' services to PatientsLikeMe as its alliance seeks to merge patient-generated and biological data with AI technology to help people better understand what accelerates or mitigates disease.
PatientsLikeMe co-founder and chairman Jamie Heywood said: “Our partnership with iCarbonX will accelerate the development of our vision for a democratic system of discovery, care, and learning built for and with the people it serves - patients.
“Jun and all the companies in the Alliance share this commitment to make patient value the guiding star in all we do.”
For his part Wang said PatientsLikeMe's track record of engaging and empowering patients in their health was a key factor in his partnership decision.
“PatientsLikeMe pioneered digitising the patient experience and connecting people online so that everyone learns from shared data,” he said.
“Our partnership moves this to the next level, bringing new data and technology together to help people assess their health status and their options, and manage their digital life in a more complete manner.”
Lining up alongside PatientsLikeMe in the Digital Life Alliance are SomaLogic (real-time protein measurement technology), HealthTell (immune system technology) and GALT (next generation, high-throughput microbial detection and isolation products).
The collaboration also includes Imagu (digitalised human model and prediction technology), Robustnique (a technology-driven recombinant enzymes company) and AOBiome. The latter has developed a first-in-class mechanistic, probiotic-based therapy and will provide the Alliance's first customised applications.
Founded in October 2015, iCarbonX aims to build an internet-based ecosystem of digital life based on artificial intelligence and a combination of an individual's biological, behavioural and psychological data.
Wang said: “Today we know a great deal about how genes impact our health. But for that knowledge to be useful, we need to know how disease and ageing manifest in the body over time, and how our everyday choices affect their progression.
“This ecosystem will be capable of connecting the biology and experience of individuals, and of creating useful, predictive algorithms to illuminate personal susceptibilities, differences in body functions and variations in treatment responses.”
In time the Alliance will offer, he said, a 'Digital Me' personal guide that could give the healthcare sector a more efficient and cost-effective way of developing new treatments.