machine learning

Hundreds of Thousands of Biological Molecules Undiscovered in Plant Chemical Space Says Founder of New Drug Discovery Company

“Why do plants make a host of chemicals they don’t use? One answer that has always intrigued me is that, unlike us, they can’t walk up and walk away from an environment they don’t like. Evolution has honed this space for over 400 million years.”

That’s today’s guest, Viswa Colluru, Founder and CEO of Enveda Biosciences. Enveda is a drug discovery company with an innovative approach to a very old idea. The company is applying cutting-edge machine learning and metabolomics to a 50,000-year-old human practice—extracting medicinal value from plants. And they’ve just raised $50 million.

Viswa says that in spite of years of research, only about 5 to 10% of drugs advanced to clinical trials end up working in people. So he has returned to first principles. This and some early formative experiences in his home country of India have led him back to plants.

Viswa says there are hundreds of thousands of undiscovered biological molecules in plants. What?! How could that be? What have been biologists been up to all these years?

Genomics England Making Significant Strides in System Built on Trust in NHS

“In an era where we look at these surveys about trust and everything’s going off the cliff, everyone still trusts the NHS. It’s so deep in the British psyche."

That’s today’s guest, Chris Wigley, the CEO of Genomics England, a government run company (a strange concept for us Americans), set up as a sequencing center for the UK’s NHS or National Health Service. The company also does massive bioinformatics work to bring genomics and EHR data together using the latest in machine learning methods. (Note to data scientists drooling over those legendary datasets: Genomics England is hiring.)

What many may not know is that Genomics England has finished the original 100,000 genomes it was set up to sequence and is now shooting for 500,000 genomes by 2024. Just this month the company set up a new platform that is split into two arms, one for diagnostics working with the NHS and one that is research based.

It’s our first interview with a CEO of Genomics England, and it’s a chance to ask everything. One comes away with a very optimistic picture for genomic medicine taking hold in a country where trust in a national healthcare system and rational science are just a given.