BlackThorn, an artificial intelligence (AI) technologies company, has joined the Reward Task Optimization Consortium (RTOC) to advance its targeted therapeutics.
A spokesperson for Blackthorn told us that by joining the consortium it will be able to expand and accelerate its ongoing efforts to develop quantitative behavioral assessment tools across domains that drive disability in neurobehavioral disorders.
The spokesperson added the RTOC is not focused on AI, but Blackthorn uses the technology to build predictive models which can be used to enrich knowledge of which patients subtypes are most likely to respond to its drug candidates in clinical trials.
“How the two efforts tie together is that performance on a task, such as the ones in development via RTOC, can become a ‘behavioral biomarker’ linked to specific brain circuit functioning. Behavioral biomarkers can then help guide clinical development of new treatments by providing inputs about the patient’s phenotype for the machine learning algorithms,” said the spokesperson.
According to RTOC, impaired motivation, loss of interest, apathy, and social withdrawal are reported symptoms in many central nervous system (CNS) disorders. These symptoms predict poor functional outcomes for patients at the social level.
BlackThorn will apply its machine learning methodologies to build predictive models using patient baseline characteristics to determine the subsets of patients most likely to respond to drug or placebo.
The company will use AI to determine a ‘rule list’ that can be used in subsequent clinical trials as inclusion and exclusion criteria.
“The big picture is that the brain is like any other organ in the body. As we can measure blood pressure to determine heart health, we need to be able to measure behavior to determine brain health. This consortium is taking on the task of developing objective tools to measure behavior so that we can better understand how to improve brain health,” the Blackthorn spokesperson told us.
Aiming to advance the development of clinical tools to measure impaired motivation in individuals with neurobehavioral disorders, RTOC was created at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Experimental Medicine Network in April 2019.
The consortium is made up of members in the pharmaceutical industry and academia and led by P1vital Products. It has partnerships with scientific representatives from BlackThorn Therapeutics, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Lundbeck, and Roche.
Academia partners will include researchers from the Maastricht University’s School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, University Hospital Frankfurt, the Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions, Parc de Salut Mar, Barcelona, and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Medicine.