Owkin and Merck Team up To Develop AI-powered Diagnostics For Cancer

India Pharma Outlook Team | Thursday, 21 December 2023

 India Pharma Outlook Team

Owkin, a French-American biotechnology company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in drug discovery and development as well as diagnostics, announced a collaboration agreement with MSD, the trade name of Merck & Co Inc, to develop and commercialize AI-powered digital pathology diagnostics for the European Union market.

Clinical trials have shown that the MSI-H tumor phenotype has potential prognostic and therapeutic importance, especially with the increased application of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapies. As such, MSI-H has become an important genomic biomarker with applications across several types of cancer. As a result, testing for MSI-H is now recommended by consensus guidelines internationally, as per pharmabiz.

Meriem Sefta, chief diagnostics officer of Owkin said: “This strategic alliance with MSD is focused on improving the way patients are diagnosed and receive treatment, advancing our shared mission of supporting healthcare providers in their adoption of innovative digital diagnostics. It is clear that there is a need for AI diagnostics that can both ease bottlenecks and resource pressures while also ramping up biomarker testing to match patients with optimal treatments.”

The goal of this partnership is to create a pre-screening process that will increase the number of endometrial, gastric, small intestine, and biliary cancer cases that are tested for MSI-H. There is a low MSI-H prevalence and no regular MSI-H screening for certain cancer types. The European Union will be the primary focus of the relationship at first.

“The application of AI technologies holds tremendous potential in the screening of patients and the diagnosis of disease,” said Scott K. Pruitt, associate vice president and head, Translational Oncology, MSD Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the Owkin team toward harnessing this opportunity to identify more patients with MSI-H cancers who may benefit from ICI therapy."

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