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M2Gen, Zephyr AI Partner on Cancer Drug Discovery

NEW YORK – Cancer-focused bioinformatics firm M2Gen said Thursday that it has formed a strategic partnership with artificial intelligence startup Zephyr AI that the firms hope will advance target and drug discovery for precision oncology treatments.

Under the multiyear agreement, Tampa, Florida-based M2Gen, a spinout from Moffitt Cancer Center, will license its real-world longitudinal cancer patient dataset to Tysons Corner, Virginia-based Zephyr AI, which, in turn, will apply its AI and machine learning technologies to the data.

Zephyr AI has built a technology platform to aggregate, curate, and analyze multidimensional datasets with artificial intelligence to inform drug discovery and patient care. The company draws its data from public databases covering DNA mutations, copy number variants, gene expression, DNA-protein interactions, drug screening, electronic health records, and medical imaging.

M2Gen is the technology hub of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN), which aims to deliver complex oncology data and analytics capabilities to researchers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, as well as in academia. Its database of more than 350,000 cancer patients contains longitudinal clinical data as well as tumor and germline genomics data from whole-exome and whole-transcriptome sequencing.

"The pairing of M2Gen's extensive dataset with Zephyr's powerful analytical and bioinformatics capabilities allows us … to discover new uses for existing drugs and drug combinations, unearth novel drug targets, and inform the design of new medications," Grant Verstandig, cofounder and executive chairman of Zephyr AI, said in a statement.

"This opportunity symbolizes the power of working in concert to accelerate the development of cancer treatments and cures," M2Gen CEO Jim Gabriele added. "Our data have been used successfully for indication expansion of many pharmaceutical products, including traditional treatments and immunotherapies such as CAR T-cell therapy. By joining forces with Zephyr AI, we will continue to transform cancer discovery, expedite research, and bring the right treatments to market sooner for countless patients with cancer."