NEW YORK – Multiomic informatics startup Gedi Cube, we hardly knew ye.
The Amsterdam-based artificial intelligence and machine learning firm, which relaunched as Gedi Cube in late July, on Friday announced a definitive agreement to be acquired by Renovaro Biosciences and rebrand as Renovaro.AI. Financial terms were not disclosed for the all-stock transaction.
The firms expect the deal to close in late 2023 or early 2024.
This acquisition news caps an eventful two months for an organization with roots going back to 2013, when predecessor Grace Systems launched as a data mining company for the banking and finance industry. CEO Craig Rhodes said that Gedi Cube distinguished itself with its auditability, a key requirement in both fintech and health informatics.
In 2018, the firm won a challenge in the Netherlands to apply its data science to a nonfinancial problem, namely finding patterns associated with cancer that more traditional research methods had missed. Grace Systems subsequently named its technology Gedi Cube and reworked the platform to focus on healthcare before adopting the Gedi Cube corporate name.
Within 10 days of the rebranding, Gedi Cube signed a binding letter of intent to combine with Los Angeles-based preclinical biotechnology firm Renovaro, a deal now being consummated.
Gedi Cube announced in August that it had joined the Nvidia Inception incubator program that will help the company become multimodal by adding medical imaging to its multiomic database. As part of that program, Gedi Cube initially will focus on early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Rhodes came on board at the time of the rebranding in July, but he has long lamented the slow pace of transition to genomics-based clinical diagnostics for cancer. UK-based Rhodes had served as Nvidia's director of healthcare and life sciences for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since 2018.
Rhodes said that Gedi Cube hired him to "operationalize" and scale up the plans to serve clinical oncology.
"I really want to go and work a bit closer to research in an organization that would really try and help with that transformation from research to clinical practice," he said. "I've always believed that there's something in genomics that's going to really help with that prognostic process as well."
He lamented the "dreadful" waiting times for cancer diagnostics and care in the UK's National Health Service. "How can we identify cancer as early as possible so that we can really inform that process?"
Renovaro is gearing up to launch Phase I/IIa clinical studies in the second half of 2024 for a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer and other solid tumors with short life expectancy.
Rhodes was excited about this merger bringing Gedi Cube its first clinical trial within a year, something that might take several years for a small bioinformatics company to negotiate on its own. He said that the firm is also in talks to participate in a clinical study in partnership with the Manchester Rare Conditions Centre in the UK.
The Renovaro acquisition potentially will give Gedi Cube its first access to the US market. The company currently prioritizes the Netherlands and UK markets and also has customers in the Middle East including Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare.
Rhodes said that multiomics will be important in precision cancer diagnostics because "whole-genome sequencing is not the golden egg that we all thought it might be" due to the high cost relative to other molecular diagnostic techniques.
Part of the cost is related to computing power for analyzing omics data, and Gedi Cube now can tap into Nvidia resources including graphics processing unit-based acceleration.
Participation in Nvidia Inception includes access to venture capitalists. Prior to the Renovaro merger announcement, Gedi Cube had been funded by private shareholders. Rhodes still considers the company to be in a pre-seed stage, but any investment that the Nvidia connection may bring would merely be a bonus at this point.
"We're less interested about the money because we've got that coming [from Renovaro]," Rhodes said. "We lean on [Nvidia's] skills, and they also are leaning on ours. They want to know how to do multiomics and work that into their platform as well."
Nvidia Inception members also receive technical assistance, educational opportunities, and discounts of Nvidia hardware and software. Nvidia declined to comment on Gedi Cube's inclusion in the Inception program.
Additionally, Gedi Cube is joining the Medical Imaging Open Network for Artificial Intelligence (MONAI), a research collaboration started by Nvidia and King's College London.
"We want to integrate that MONAI platform with our own platform," Rhodes said. "The collaboration will really bring their expertise in model development for CT and pathology imaging and our skills in multiomics together."
Rhodes said the combination of a large omics dataset and a large medical imaging dataset is both a technical issue and "quite a good research question" since there have not been many such integrations to date. Typical integrations between pathology and molecular datasets so far have used a single type of omics data.
Version 1.0 of MONAI debuted a year ago last week at Nvidia's annual user meeting after two years of development. An update to Nvidia's AI Enterprise software suite last December added native support for MONAI.
"They're getting a lot of imaging partners [for MONAI], but they're not really getting partners like ourselves from multiomics," Rhodes said. "We're all interested to see how this has an effect on personalized or precision health."
Gedi Cube is currently exploring cohort design and identification of patients for clinical trials, and Rhodes would like to lead the future Renovaro subsidiary into supporting drug discovery. He indicated that the company may pursue partnerships with Big Pharma as well as startups.
"For us, that's a really big area because, of course, the earlier we can find cancer, the earlier the drug treatment can start and the less intensive the drug therapy may be as well," Rhodes said. It also gives the company a "much better chance of survival" in a competitive industry.
Gedi Cube now has a pipeline of validated biomarker panels for 13 types of cancer. The company is looking beyond cancer into areas including rare diseases. "There's enough to do in cancer, but we should not limit ourselves to it," Rhodes said.
Rhodes said that the company is trying to figure out its best potential data partners, and it has had discussions with Genomics England and the North West Genomic Medicine Service Alliance in the UK.
"We're still quite small as a group, so we've got to pick fairly wisely," Rhodes said.
The company currently has a team of about 20 people. The combined Gedi Cube and Renovaro would have slightly more than 50, according to Rhodes.