Karim Galil, MD, founder and CEO of Mendel Health, Inc told us he was tired of losing patients to cancer only to later find out about a treatment she hadn’t considered. “Every year 700k papers are published in medicine and an average physician can read 200,” he explained.
For this reason, Galil worked to develop Mendel.ai, which he said democratizes breakthroughs in medicine.
“Contrary to our limited human brains, Mendel's technology can sift through the collective knowledge of medicine and make connections based on a patient's medical records,” he said.
Mendel combines neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) with deep learning models, trained by the company’s in-house team of oncologists and physicians, to essentially enable the program “to read and think like an oncologist,” Galil explained.
The program identifies key attributes and events in a patient's medical record, sifts for papers or clinical trials that target similar patient profiles, and makes a recommendation to the physician, he added.
With funding in tow, Galil said he is planning to expand the company’s team of AI scientists, hire more physicians and oncologists, and integrate the technology with three health institutes/organizations.
The next steps involve testing the algorithms in real clinical settings and expanding the matching services outside clinical trials to include approved treatments.
“We are building Jarvis for physicians. An AI assistant that can make any physician a super hero,” said Galil. “This can be the fine line between life and death for many patients.”
Investing in AI
When the team at DCM Ventures, the company that co-led the investment, met Galil, Kyle Lui said the venture capital firm saw “a big opportunity to get behind a passionate team where applied AI could save lives.”
According to Lui, a principal at DCM, healthcare is a $3tn market ripe for AI disruption.
“Cancer centers and oncologists spend a disproportionate amount of time matching patients to potential trials — reading through countless PDFs where relevant data on both sides — patient data and trial requirements are often in unstructured data,” he added.
“Even if a doctor reads all of the clinical trials he/she can in a day, it doesn’t come close to the number of trials that exist – which is missed opportunity.”
Lui said what used to take a cancer team tens of hours can be done by Mendel in one-tenth the time, “and more thoroughly.”
The next step will be finding a way to use patient data from EMR’s to provide better overall care by preventing missed opportunities in terms of treatment, diagnosis, and preventative healthcare, Lui explained.
“For Mendel, we are making introductions to other health systems, other relevant startups for potential partners, and of course, helping to build the team,” he added.
Mendel has landed its first integration with the UCLA-affiliated Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center and Lui said the firm expects the company will continue to meet its business milestones and attract additional funding rounds.