WINSTON-SALEM, NC – June 25, 2020 – The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) and Oracle Health Sciences have teamed as part of the Innovation Quarter’s iQ Healthtech Labs™ to develop a consortium of industry, government, and academic members that will study novel approaches to establishing the safety of new drugs that are nearing clinical investigation in humans and FDA approval.
The collaboration brings together Oracle’s unparalleled infrastructure for data analytics with WFIRM’s Body-on-a-Chip program to provide next-generation technologies for drug development, drug candidate screening, and personalized medicine. Body-on-a-Chip is a system of miniaturized organs, also called “organoids,” that can be used to detect harmful and adverse effects of drugs before they are tested in humans.
This collaboration represents a cornerstone program for the newly established iQ Healthtech Labs, a physical and virtual hub that leverages the unique, world-class intellectual anchors that exist within the Wake Forest Medical Center’s Innovation Quarter and seeks to pair them with industry and commercial partners to develop breakthrough ideas. One of the key focus areas of iQ Healthtech Labs is a Personalized Care & Precision Medicine Sector, which helps develop and refine novel approaches to improve and transform healthcare through understanding drug effects at the level of the individual, rather than a one-size-fits all approach to medicine.
The vision for the program is to use WFIRM’s Body-on-a-Chip technology to evaluate the toxicity of drugs across a wide range of human tissues. The data will be analyzed with advanced machine learning that is being co-developed with Oracle Labs and Oracle for Research to uncover specific characteristics of molecules that might indicate potential toxicity in humans. The platform can also be used to identify drugs that can be most effective for specific diseases, including antidotes for outbreaks such as the current COVID pandemic.
“These technologies will allow drug companies to prioritize drug candidates based upon the relative chance that a drug would be safe and effective, and can also play a significant role in the emerging field of personalized medicine,” said Anthony Atala, MD, director of WFIRM. “Because our Body-on-a-Chip systems can be created from the patient’s own cells, we have the ability to look at the best drug treatments for an individual’s specific disease. The platform can also help to identify people with certain genetic characteristics that make them more or less sensitive to a specific drug. We are excited to join with Oracle to deliver on the promise of this new approach.”
WFIRM selected Oracle because of its deep subject matter expertise and experience both in the technology and the application areas of drug development, which will make this collaboration truly powerful.
“We are honored to be a part of this extraordinary approach to clinical research and clinical care,” said Steve Rosenberg, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Health Sciences. “Together, Oracle and WFIRM will continue to push the innovation envelope in both data analytics and medical research. We recognize that the same machine learning algorithms that Oracle uses to evaluate toxicity in terms of molecular structure could also take into account the unique disease characteristics of an individual whose cells were used in creating the organoids.”
“Being able to create approaches to medicine that take into account an individual’s unique genetic makeup is critical in today’s world of medicine,” said Jane Shen, PharmD, head of sector development for the Innovation Quarter. “That’s why iQ Healthtech Labs is focused on creating partnerships like this one with WFIRM and Oracle that bring together powerful leaders to advance innovative solutions.”
The WFIRM Body-on-a-Chip program has been building momentum for over a decade. The institute has led more than $55M in efforts sponsored by government and industry for developing Body-on-a-Chip models using a constellation of human cells and other biological substances. Excited about the possibilities for medical advances created by connecting machine learning, the power of Oracle Cloud, and the institute’s human organoid capabilities, Oracle most recently provided a $100,000 unrestricted gift and, through Oracle for Research, $25,000 in Oracle Cloud credits to jump-start projects for applying machine learning to data generated through Body-on-a-Chip technology.
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About the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine:
The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is recognized as an international leader in translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies, with many world firsts, including the development and implantation of the first engineered organ in a patient. Over 400 people at the institute, the largest in the world, work on more than 40 different tissues and organs. A number of the basic principles of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine were first developed at the institute. WFIRM researchers have successfully engineered replacement tissues and organs in all four categories – flat structures, tubular tissues, hollow organs and solid organs – and 15 different applications of cell/tissue therapy technologies, such as skin, urethras, cartilage, bladders, muscle, kidney, and vaginal organs, have been successfully used in human patients. The institute, which is part of Wake Forest School of Medicine, is located in the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, and is driven by the urgent needs of patients. The institute is making a global difference in regenerative medicine through collaborations with over 400 entities and institutions worldwide, through its government, academic and industry partnerships, its start-up entities, and through major initiatives in breakthrough technologies, such as tissue engineering, cell therapies, diagnostics, drug discovery, biomanufacturing, nanotechnology, gene editing and 3D printing.
About Oracle Health Sciences
As a leader in Life Sciences cloud technology, Oracle Health Sciences’ Clinical One and Safety One are trusted globally by professionals in both large and emerging companies engaged in clinical research and pharmacovigilance. With over 20 years’ experience, Oracle Health Sciences is committed to supporting clinical development, delivering innovation to accelerate advancements, and empowering the Life Sciences industry to improve patient outcomes. Oracle Health Sciences. For life.
About Oracle for Research
Oracle for Research is a global community that is working to address complex problems and drive meaningful change in the world. The program provides scientists, researchers, and university innovators with high-value, cost-effective Cloud technologies, participation in Oracle research user community, and access to Oracle’s technical support network. Through the program’s free cloud credits, users can leverage Oracle’s proven technology and infrastructure while keeping research-developed IP private and secure. Learn more at https:/
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About iQ Healthtech Labs:
Located in Innovation Quarter, iQ Healthtech Labs, a virtual and physical partnership hub that leverages the unique, world-class intellectual anchors that exist within the Innovation Quarter and seeks to pair them with industry and commercial partners to advance breakthrough ideas into the marketplace. Innovation Quarter is a vibrant, mixed-use innovation district located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Anchored by Wake Forest School of Medicine, it is home to a community of more than 3,400 workers in 90 companies and four other institutions of higher learning where almost 1,800 degree-seeking students come to learn every day. In addition to more than 1,100 residential units, the Innovation Quarter also features a dynamic urban park, publicly accessible greenway and free community events that make this a true “Live.Work.Learn.Play” community.