Gene Network Sciences Using Supercomputing to Match Patients with a Drug That Works

4/27/10

Health insurers have wasted billions of dollars on reimbursing drugs that don’t work for certain patients. But Cambridge, MA-based Gene Network Sciences might have a cure for this spending ailment. It is using supercomputing technology to build databases that can match patients with the most suitable drugs or other treatments, company CEO Colin Hill says.

This is a major change for Gene Network Sciences, which has formed a new subsidiary called GNS Healthcare to focus on the healthcare market. Since the Cornell physicists Hill and Iya Khalil formed the startup in 2000, it’s been known mostly for performing computer-simulated drug research with its signature reverse engineering/forward simulation technology for such major companies as Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). While Gene Network Sciences is continuing to work in drug research and development, Hill says, the healthcare market has been a major focus for the firm over the past year.

Within the healthcare market, the company is initially seeking partnerships with pharmacy benefit management firms. These outfits, such as CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) and Medco Health Solutions (NYSE:MHS), handle prescription drug plans for more than 210 million Americans, the majority of the total U.S. population, according to the Pharmacy Care Management Association, an industry group based in Washington, DC. The PBMs, as they are often called, have already adopted e-prescribing to reduce errors and streamline how doctors order prescriptions for patients, and Hill says these companies have also implemented computer models. But the drug benefit mangers don’t have the artificial intelligence capabilities that his firm offers he says.

“For the payers, it’s really about using innovation to deliver smart, more cost-effective medicines,” Hill says. “The next generation analytics, like GNS Healthcare provides, will match the right drugs to the right patients for the right price.”

The company is taking a different technical approach from its drug R&D work to solve problems for healthcare customers, Hill says. For drug companies, Gene Network Sciences has … Next Page »

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