After launching a data analytics collaboration one year and one pandemic ago, the Mayo Clinic and nference say they plan to expand their partnership to include research projects in digital pathology and heart rhythm diagnostics.
In January 2020, shortly after backing its $60 million series B round, the Mayo Clinic tapped nference to build an artificial intelligence-powered engine that would take years of clinical records—including millions of tissue slides and physician-written notes—and transform them all into an annotated database capable of being used for research.
"We have built a software platform that brings vast, curated quantities of scientific and biological knowledge―previously siloed and inaccessible―to researchers' and clinicians' fingertips so they can, for the first time, draw on the collective wisdom and experience of millions of scientists, physicians and patients,” said nference co-founder and CEO Murali Aravamudan.
But in the past 12 months, the spread of COVID-19 has instead provided an opportunity to use the system to answer questions about the disease’s long-term complications, as well as its relationships with pre-existing conditions.
This includes collating and digesting 100 million biomedical documents—including open biomedical research, structured and unstructured clinical data, and human cell and protein atlases—to profile the body’s cellular receptors that can fuel coronavirus infections.
In collaboration with researchers at Mayo and Janssen, nference’s platform found the virus’ favored ACE2 receptor spanned multiple tissues. From the tongue, nose and airway, to the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, they realized the disease had the potential to affect much more than a typical respiratory infection.
And last month, nference collected another $60 million, this time for its series C round, which will help support COVID-focused projects on virus transmission, symptoms and progression, as well as diagnostic predictions of conditions such as pulmonary hypertension.