Cincinnati Children’s Gains AI Platform to Speed CF Research

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by Steve Bryson, PhD |

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Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will use Epistemic AI’s platform, a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) research tool for the life sciences, to augment its research into cystic fibrosis (CF) and other lung conditions.

The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) venture philanthropy initiative helped bring this capability to scientists at Cincinnati Children’s.

“By accelerating cystic fibrosis research, we come closer to finding a cure and treating patients currently affected by the disease. We believe that the use of AI can accelerate this process,” Gunnar Esiason, a CF patient and executive vice president at BEF, said in a press release.

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“Our venture philanthropy initiative at the Boomer Esiason Foundation demonstrates our long-term commitment to improve CF research, and we believe that the Epistemic AI platform can be a catalyst that helps many researchers and clinicians,” he added.

AI platform helps to connect dots in CF research

BEF — founded by former National Football League MVP quarterback Boomer Esiason and his wife Cheryl, the parents of Gunnar Esiason — has an ongoing partnership with Epistemic AI (EAI) to support CF research using its AI discovery platform. The platform is capable of making connections across multiple disciplines in the life sciences — highlighting the underlying relationships between disease, diagnosis, treatment, and biological function.

“This confirms EAI’s commitment to support clinical research in cystic fibrosis,” said Stefano Pacifico, CEO and co-founder of Epistemic AI. “Our AI platform dramatically accelerates biomedical research by integrating human intelligence with easily accessible yet complex technology, ultimately to benefit CF patients.”

A demonstration of Epistemic AI’s platform was given to Raouf Amin, MD, director of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s, and more than 40 faculty members last year.

Its acquisition will support clinicians and researchers in Amin’s division using advanced AI tools. The platform helps in accessing and evaluating CF-related data in basic research, as well as clinical trials, treatments, and existing CF research on rare genetic variants and pathogens.

“Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has been a long-standing partner of the Foundation, and we are thrilled to reaffirm our commitment to the Hospital and CF Center by providing cutting edge tools to advance their work,” Esiason said.

CF is an inherited condition mainly affecting the lungs and digestive system, caused by the buildup of abnormally thick mucus. Recurrent bacterial infections and lung inflammation can lead to progressive damage to the respiratory system.

Mucus buildup in the pancreas can block the release of digestive enzymes, leading to problems with digestion and nutrition. As a result, nearly half of all adults with CF will develop diabetes.

Although there have been advances in CF therapeutics, including CFTR modulators that correct underlying CF-related defects, further research is needed, including into treatments for people with rarer CF-causing mutations.