Graduation time for the Digital Garden 2021

Athena Care in the Digital Garden: from a research prototype to an AI Cognitive Tool for Precision Medicine and Advanced Analytics

Beginnings are key, and the fact that Athena Care joined the Digital Garden, powered by Almirall, in the early stages of its entrepreneurial journey has been transformative. In January 2021, the initiative joined the program seeking mentorship from prominent executives and pharma industry experts to accelerate its strategic roadmap. In a matter of months, the joint project from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, IDIBAPS, UB and UPC, has been able to shape a research prototype into an AI cognitive tool for precision medicine and advanced analytics.

Going hand by hand with a big corporation such as Almirall has helped Athena Care advance with confidence. As an early-stage project, Athena Care’s most immediate needs were creating, innovating, and gaining momentum in the right direction. These actions required the dynamism and support that our mentors were eager and equipped to provide. Ester, Gonzalo, Laia, Maria, and Núria proved themselves as close and knowledgeable mentors and always were ready to engage us with the right people. As a result, we have gotten access to the network and facilities that a big corporation has to offer.

Meeting with people who have already succeeded in their sector is especially useful; that’s why complementary Digital Garden sessions proved to be valuable. In addition, participants were presented with the opportunity to learn from external guests, often extending to a helpful one-to-one practical session tailored to the start-up, such as a venture capitalist, a branding firm owner, a law specialist or a serial entrepreneur. Now, looking back at Athena Care’s journey in the Digital Garden, we can conclude that it has met all the expectations and even gone beyond them. It felt like being propelled by a rocket engine, and that’s what we were looking for when joining the program.

The Problem – Hospitals’ software systems are outdated and not prepared to deal with precision medicine

We are experiencing a revolution in cancer thanks to laboratory research. Advances in screening, targeted and immune therapies, big data, computational methodologies, and significant new knowledge of cancer biology are transforming cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and survival. More work is needed to develop better tools and strategies to limit cancer as a major health concern despite this progress. One persistent gap is the inconsistent coordination among researchers and caregivers to implement evidence‐based programs that rely on a fuller understanding of the molecular, cellular, and systems biology mechanisms underpinning different types of cancer.

At present, the prognostic evaluation of most cancer patients is based on an international guideline with several clinical limitations. This classification includes clinical data of the patient, histological data of the tumor, medical tests, the evaluation of the local regional lymph nodes, and distant metastasis. This information is used to predict the evolution and risk of relapse and death of the patient. However, the data used to perform this classification is often insufficient to provide a customized prognosis for each patient and makes it difficult to provide individualized treatment recommendations. Also, patients’ systemic and surgical treatments often involve significant toxicities and morbidities that impact their quality of life. Therefore, cancer patients should benefit from a more precise risk classification.

The Solution: Athena Care, the future of Precision Medicine

The idea behind Athena Care was born in 2020 to make research in precision medicine available to the greatest number of people. Athena Care is an AI cognitive tool to empower healthcare practitioners through patient-centric diagnostics and prognostics, management recommendations and advanced analytics. It features:

  • Disruptive algorithm for personalized medicine that is easily expandable to other cancer types, resulting in improved clinical outcomes for patients through more accurate diagnostics and prognostics.
  • High-Tech & Speciality Tailored to improve the clinical workflow, which results gives more time for the physician’s value-adding tasks.
  • AI Diagnosis & Prognosis for helping in early detection, reducing patient mortality and morbidity, and, consequently, healthcare costs.