DIJON, France--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regulatory News:
ONCODESIGN (Paris:ALONC) (ALONC – FR0011766229), a biopharmaceutical group specialized in precision medicine, announces today the creation of its new Artificial Intelligence Business Unit (BU) headed up by Stéphane Gerart.
The growth in the Service business and the emergence of a more mature product portfolio, including drug candidates under proprietary and partnership programs, have prompted Oncodesign to reorganize its operations into three Business Units: Service, Biotech and Artificial Intelligence. The Service and Biotech BUs were up and running in early 2020, while Artificial Intelligence (AI), the third BU, is now in place.
The remit given to the new Artificial Intelligence BU is to support development of the drug discovery of the future and halve research and development times for drug candidates by 2023 while developing its revenue streams by providing research services to industry and the clinical sector. Its creation follows on from the OncoSNIPE® project launched three years ago, which harnessed AI technologies in its search for new therapeutic targets to address resistance to cancer treatments. The new BU will be based mainly in Dijon and has seven employees working in a data science laboratory. In late 2020, it will be co-located in Oncodesign’s new headquarter building with the IT team (six employees), which are also placed under Stéphane Gerart’s responsibility.
“The configuration of Oncodesign into three business units for the next five years is aligned with our needs as an innovative, multi-disciplinary pharmaceutical group specialized in precision medicine and ready to take up the challenges of our time. The roll-out of the Artificial Intelligence BU, which will help power our future innovation, represents a key pillar of our strategy”, commented Philippe Genne, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Oncodesign.
The market for health-related artificial intelligence technologies was worth an estimated $2.1 billion in 2018 and is forecast to grow by 50.2% p.a. to reach $36.1 billion by 20251. The AI market is reputed to be particularly hard to penetrate in the drug discovery segment because of the sophisticated drug discovery and AI development expertise it requires. Oncodesign was one of the first biopharmaceutical companies to have embraced the new AI technologies back in 2015. Human resources represent a critical success factor in this field owing to the requisite mix of skills (biology, chemistry, biomedicine, bioinformatics, software engineering, data science, mathematics, IT infrastructure). Companies that began harnessing AI and data science several years ago have a genuine competitive advantage given that individuals with the requisite skills are now in short supply. Established drug discovery specialists (CROs) such as Oncodesign are fortunate in possessing a majority of these skills already within their ranks.
Beyond the continuation of the development of OncoSNIPE®, which will strongly benefit from major future AI enhancements, Oncodesign aims to replicate and build further on its innovation model by harnessing the full possibilities of these technologies, which should help to shorten dramatically the length of drug discovery cycles. Modeling diseases, analyzing mutations and expression levels of proteins, identifying and selecting of molecular targets, designing molecules, in silico screening, in silico assessment of therapeutic combinations and of new biomarkers, analyzing images and, lastly, predicting the toxicity of a drug candidate are the main applications of AI in drug discovery.
To accelerate the roll-out of its AI strategy, Oncodesign plans to acquire new AI technologies by various means, or sometimes by combining them. They include:
- organic growth combined with a strategic recruitment policy
- acquisitions, including purchases of start-ups and of shareholdings
- partnerships with AI specialists in the public and private sector
- open innovation: creation of platforms, acceleration programs, industrial incubators, initiation of scientific challenges to identify new solutions, potential partners, or even future acquisition targets
“We are delighted Stéphane Gerart is joining our senior management team to oversee this new business unit. Stéphane will bring his solid experience in medical data processing and artificial intelligence, and he will support our rapid development as we embark on a key period of expansion”, added Philippe Genne. “His high-caliber expertise in artificial intelligence and related technologies, and his know-how in terms of harnessing them effectively in service offerings will play a crucial role in accelerating the development of our new AI BU.”
Stéphane Gerart, 37, a trained engineer and graduate of the prestigious École Polytechnique research school after majoring in biology at the INA-PG life sciences institution, wrote an academic research thesis on immunology at the Necker-Enfants Malades hospital in Paris concerning immune deficiencies of genetic origin under the supervision of Prof. Alain Fisher. Between 2012 and 2016, Stéphane was a commercial development and marketing consultant with Conseil Novoptim, a strategic, marketing and business consulting firm for high-growth life sciences companies. After supporting the firm’s development from Toronto (Canada), Stéphane joined SOPHiA GENETICS in February 2016 as head of commercial development in Canada. SOPHiA GENETICS is a world leader in analyzing sequencing data for patients and healthcare professionals. In September 2018, Stéphane returned to France as SOPHiA GENETICS’ head of corporate business development, a role he continued to play in until today.
“Oncodesign’s core purpose of discovering innovative new therapies effective against cancer and serious illnesses with no known treatment is what convinced me to join. I firmly believe that Oncodesign is solidly equipped to achieve its goals, with its very large and high-quality datasets and also the possibility of generating new in vitro or in vivo data to validate and challenge the theoretical models it develops”, stated Stéphane Gerart, Head of Oncodesign’s AI BU. “Thanks to this new BU, we are going to consolidate the tremendous data pool acquired by Oncodesign and optimize its analytical processes by harnessing the most effective technologies. Practically speaking, our goal will be to harness insights from artificial intelligence to shorten all the development times for the molecules produced by Oncodesign’s platforms so they can move on to the drug-candidate stage as rapidly as possible. Our roadmap is clear: find therapeutic solutions for diseases with no effective treatment or for diseases where treatments have failed.”
About ONCODESIGN: www.oncodesign.com
Founded 25 years ago by Dr. Philippe Genne, the Company’s CEO and Chairman, Oncodesign is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to precision medicine. With its unique experience acquired by working with more than 800 clients, including the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, along with its comprehensive technological platform combining state-of-the-art medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, regulated bioanalysis, medical imaging and Artificial Intelligence, Oncodesign is able to predict and identify, at a very early stage, each molecule's therapeutic usefulness and potential to become an effective drug. Applied to kinase inhibitors, which represent a market estimated at over $65 billion by 2027 and accounting for almost 25% of the pharmaceutical industry’s R&D expenditure, Oncodesign’s technology has already enabled the targeting of several promising molecules with substantial therapeutic potential, in oncology and elsewhere, along with partnerships with pharmaceutical groups such as Bristol-Myers Squibb. Oncodesign is based in Dijon, France, in the heart of the town’s university and hospital hub, and within the Paris-Saclay cluster. Oncodesign has 233 employees and subsidiaries in Canada and the USA.
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1 Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Market Report, Markets & markets, December 2018