Kim Branson, GSK's head of AI and machine learning

GSK ex­pands AI part­ner­ship with Tem­pus, fronting $70M for ac­cess to 'mul­ti­modal data'

GSK has been ag­gres­sive­ly look­ing at AI, and in its newest ven­ture, the Big Phar­ma has ex­pand­ed a deal with an old part­ner in a bid to add to its ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The UK phar­ma put out word in the wee hours of Tues­day morn­ing that it is broad­en­ing its part­ner­ship with AI out­fit Tem­pus, which has spe­cial­ized in de-iden­ti­fied pa­tient da­ta. Hav­ing worked to­geth­er since 2020, GSK has paid Tem­pus $70 mil­lion up­front for three more years of part­ner­ship, with more in­vest­ment pos­si­ble and an op­tion to ex­tend the deal for yet an­oth­er two years. This new deal, ac­cord­ing to GSK, will fo­cus on im­prov­ing clin­i­cal tri­al de­sign, speed­ing up en­roll­ment and iden­ti­fy­ing drug tar­gets.

GSK’s head of ma­chine learn­ing and AI Kim Bran­son tells End­points News that the orig­i­nal deal was cen­tered around us­ing Tem­pus’ de-iden­ti­fied pa­tient da­ta for tar­get­ed pa­tient en­roll­ment, cit­ing Tem­pus’ large amount of da­ta it had ac­cess to in its re­port­ed work with 40% of US on­col­o­gists in aca­d­e­m­ic and hos­pi­tal set­tings.

“It was a great way to iden­ti­fy pa­tients and en­roll them faster,” Bran­son said.

He added that at the same time, GSK has be­come more ag­gres­sive in ex­pand­ing the com­pa­ny’s ma­chine learn­ing work as a grow­ing op­er­a­tion, now at around 165 peo­ple across the US, Eu­rope and Is­rael.

What makes Tem­pus’ dataset re­al­ly unique, Bran­son said, is its mul­ti­modal da­ta — or da­ta that span dif­fer­ent types, such as imag­ing or text or ge­net­ics. Ac­cord­ing to the AI chief, tra­di­tion­al re­al world ev­i­dence is usu­al­ly along the lines of med­ica­tions, some lab work, and di­ag­noses. How­ev­er, that in­for­ma­tion doesn’t even be­gin to crack the sur­face of what the team is look­ing for — which is all the raw da­ta. And that’s what Tem­pus is pro­vid­ing GSK.

Bran­son said there are no da­ta like more da­ta, but there are al­so no da­ta like the right kind of da­ta. As he ex­plained:

Lots of re­al world ev­i­dence in can­cer doesn’t give me that fine grain in­for­ma­tion that I re­al­ly want for ma­chine learn­ing. So we need that mul­ti­modal da­ta. I need ac­cess to the raw pix­els of that pathol­o­gist slide. I don’t just need the pathol­o­gist re­port say­ing stage III car­ci­no­ma, right? I need the ac­tu­al pic­tures be­cause there’s so much more in­for­ma­tion that I can ex­tract rather than the sum­ma­riza­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Bran­son, Tem­pus’ dataset in­cludes de-iden­ti­fied pa­tient da­ta, which pro­vides clin­i­cal in­for­ma­tion such as the tu­mor se­quence, pathol­o­gy slides, imag­ing as­pects, and cir­cu­lat­ing tu­mor DNA. On top of that, the dataset in­cludes clin­i­cal out­comes.

“So now I’ve ac­tu­al­ly got this unique dataset where I can take all those bits and pieces and put them to ma­chine learn­ing mod­els,” he added.

Tony Wood

With GSK’s oth­er tech­nol­o­gy deals and ma­chine learn­ing mod­els, Bran­son said this re­flects the “next ex­pan­sion of GSK,” us­ing da­ta as­sets to fu­el dis­cov­ery ef­forts.

GSK’s CSO Tony Wood told me­dia in his first call on Mon­day as CSO — and Hal Bar­ron’s suc­ces­sor — that part of what GSK and Tem­pus will be do­ing to­geth­er is ini­tial­ly fo­cused on on­col­o­gy, thanks to its prox­im­i­ty to pre­ci­sion med­i­cine ef­forts and the size of Tem­pus’ dataset. That dataset is an es­ti­mat­ed 34 times larg­er than the Can­cer Genome At­las and con­tains de-iden­ti­fied da­ta for more than five mil­lion records.

And GSK is not the on­ly Big Phar­ma work­ing with Tem­pus. Wood not­ed that As­traZeneca and Eli Lil­ly are al­so col­lab­o­rat­ing with the AI biotech.

As for any plans to ex­pand, Bran­son said that while the col­lab­o­ra­tion is main­ly fo­cused on can­cer and iden­ti­fy­ing new tar­gets, there is an op­tion to go in­to oth­er in­di­ca­tions.

“Our deal is for all Tem­pus da­ta, it’s not just for on­col­o­gy da­ta. So there’s some car­dio­vas­cu­lar stuff emerg­ing, there’s a lot of neu­ro emerg­ing. And that’s al­so some­thing that we’re in­ter­est­ed in as well. And not on­ly that, we’re in­ter­est­ed in al­so work­ing with Tem­pus to even ex­pand the types of da­ta they do col­lect,” Bran­son added.

Er­ic Lefkof­sky

Tem­pus is the biotech that Groupon co-founder Er­ic Lefkof­sky launched in 2015 to ef­fec­tive­ly mar­ry pre­ci­sion med­i­cine and AI and bring it to physi­cians and re­searchers. And the biotech has found its fair share of top-tier back­ers, bring­ing in more than a bil­lion dol­lars in its first five years. Bail­lie Gif­ford, Franklin Tem­ple­ton, Google, No­vo Hold­ings, and funds and ac­counts man­aged by T. Rowe Price in­vest­ed $200 mil­lion in a Se­ries G-2 round back in 2020.

In one of their more re­cent pub­lic ac­tions to­geth­er, the pair an­nounced the start of an open-la­bel Phase II tri­al back in Jan­u­ary that would eval­u­ate GSK’s PARP in­hibitor Ze­ju­la (which was de­vel­oped along­side Tesaro) in pa­tients with ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic sol­id tu­mors and a germline or so­mat­ic PALB2 mu­ta­tion.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

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Peter Hecht, Cyclerion CEO

Cy­cle­ri­on board quick­ly nix­es CEO Pe­ter Hecht's un­ortho­dox pitch for low cash re­serves

It’s been less than two months since Cyclerion laid out a new R&D strategy around its lead drug in mitochondrial diseases, one that triggered the company to lay off close to half of its employees and explore licensing deals for the rest of the pipeline. But CEO Peter Hecht apparently has other plans in mind.

Hecht, who led Ironwood for close to 20 years before spinning out Cyclerion, disclosed in an SEC filing Monday that a “newly-formed private company” that he “may have or may acquire an interest” submitted a proposal to Cyclerion the day prior to purchase Cyclerion’s CNS assets, including CY6463 and CY3018 — the top two programs listed in the pipeline.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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