AI platform will design precision Parkinson’s, neurological therapies

NAIO technology integrates neuroimaging data to find CNS therapeutic targets

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by Andrea Lobo |

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Manifest Technologies has completed initial funding and a partnership with Johnson & Johnson to apply its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform toward developing precision treatments for neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, the company announced.

The NAIO (Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence Optimized) platform integrates neuroimaging data from humans and animal models to unravel new therapeutic targets for diseases that affect the central nervous system (CNS), or the brain and spinal cord. It also seeks to contribute to patient selection for clinical trials, enabling the right therapy to be delivered to the right patient, and meeting the needs of both pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers.

“With a group of key initial investors and strategic partners we believe Manifest is ideally positioned to advance a platform that unifies computational clinical neuroscience with AI technology to guide the discovery and delivery of personalized treatments that are most likely to benefit patients at the individual level,” Alan Anticevic , PhD, Manifest’s co-founder and CEO and an associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Yale University, said in a company press release.

Manifest, founded in 2021 by experts in computational neuroimaging and psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, received funding from Kaleida Capital, Atma Capital, Connecticut Innovations, and angel investors. The values of the funding were not made available.

“We recognize the tremendous potential of the NAIO platform to accelerate CNS clinical development and look forward to contributing to a future where tailored, individualized patient care is standard,” said Ariane Tom, managing partner at Kaleida Capital.

More than 1 billion people worldwide have a disease that affects the CNS, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s is estimated to affect more than 10 million people around the world.

According to Manifest, developing treatments that target the CNS is risky and expensive, with an estimated cost of $2 billion needed to develop a single drug. But only 4% of these treatments are ultimately approved, with the high rate of clinical trial failure attributed to being unable to target specific brain circuits linked to the patient’s symptoms and consequently enrolling patients unlikely to benefit from a certain treatment

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What would NAIO platform do?

The NAIO technology was developed over 10 years by Manifest founders with the support of more than $50 million from the National Institutes of Health.

The platform aims to accelerate the development of new drugs through an automated and scalable computational neuroimaging process for precise neural target selection by incorporating proprietary software and AI technology under an exclusive license from Yale University.

It works by mapping animal neuroimaging data to suitable human brain circuitries and by marking a patient’s neuroimaging effects related to certain symptoms, thereby letting the most relevant targets and biomarkers for new or existent therapies to be selected.

This clears the way for an early decision about whether to advance a certain therapy from preclinical to clinical development.

The technology also aims to enrich clinical trials with the patients most likely to respond to a certain medication, using neuroimaging data quantitatively optimized for the selected neural targets. This may contribute to obtaining a stronger treatment effect that requires fewer participants, reducing time and costs to develop new therapies.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson will provide it early access to Manifest biomarker validation technology for a high-priority neurological indication.