Mobileye vets launch start-up to assess what drugs should go to trial

OMEC.AI, founded by Ori Shachar and Amir Harel, aims to transform the process of drug discovery and development for the betterment of human health.

 OMEC.AI founders (from left) Ori Shachar and Amir Harel. (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
OMEC.AI founders (from left) Ori Shachar and Amir Harel.
(photo credit: ELAD MALKA)

Two former Mobileye veterans have teamed up to launch a start-up that will develop AI-powered solutions to analyze preclinical data and identify gaps in efficacy and safety to increase the probability of success of drug candidates in clinical trials.

Currently, 90% of drug candidates in clinical trials fail.

OMEC.AI, founded by Ori Shachar and Amir Harel, aims to transform the process of drug discovery and development for the betterment of human health through the use of a next-generation computational platform.

“There is currently no automated solution that employs all preclinical data in a way that allows a reliable assessment of the clinical trial readiness of a drug candidate. We are aiming to fill this gap.”

Ori Shachar

“There is currently no automated solution that employs all preclinical data in a way that allows a reliable assessment of the clinical trial readiness of a drug candidate,” Shachar said. “We are aiming to fill this gap.”

AION Lab's first start-up approved by the Israel Innovation Authority

OMEC.AI is AION Lab’s first start-up approved by the Israel Innovation Authority. The lab, founded last year, is funded through the investment of leading pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Merck, with close support from Amazon Web Services, and added financial backing from the IIA.

 Artificial Neural Network with Chip (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Artificial Neural Network with Chip (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It is a first-of-its-kind innovation lab, hoping to drive the use of machine learning and AI in the fields of biology and pharma.

AION Labs and its pharma partners will provide OMEC.AI with pharmaceutical data for model training and advanced machine-learning development.

“Pharma wanted to help itself,” AION Labs CEO Mati Gill told The Jerusalem Post. “Once a drug goes into clinical trials, there is a clear pathway – Phase I, Phase II, Phase III. The pivotal decision is which candidate to bet on and invest in. These companies want to be able to use big data and AI to make smarter decisions.”

Gill said the goal of OMEC.AI is to “dramatically reduce” the percentage of drugs that enter the clinical phase and fail, costing companies time and money that affects the pockets of the patients who need their treatments.

Companies can invest $5 billion and 12 years, on average, to create the next “blockbuster drug,” Dr. Christian Tidona, founder and managing director of the BioMed X Institute, AION’s German partner, said in an earlier interview.

There have been dramatic improvements in omics technologies that are enabling scientists to analyze potential drug targets more efficiently in terms of their potential impact on a pathogen or disease. But there is still no automated solution that harnesses all preclinical data in a way that allows for a reliable assessment of the clinical trial readiness of a new drug candidate.

AION’s pharma partners unanimously selected OMEC.AI following a months-long process that included a five-day boot camp in Israel in April. Fifteen companies from around the world took part in the camp and presented their ideas to a group of judges.

As the winner, OMEC.AI receives a $2 million investment, mentorship and access to a wealth of data over the next four years. The goal is that the company will be able to continue growing independently.

Gill said that the best hi-tech entrepreneurs have gone into other industries while biology and pharma have been largely left behind.

“If the biotech industry really wants to see disruptive technologies, they will need to recruit these entrepreneurs,” Gill continued. “There is a lot of talk of bringing hi-tech into biotech, and this is a real tangible example of doing that.”