Taipei Medical University Spin-off Startup Made Top 10 Teams of B2MC Taiwan 2019

Source: Office of Business Development

Published on 2020-06-01

Competing with teams from all over the world in May 2019, AESOP Technology and MTAMTech Corporation, spin-off startups of Taipei Medical University (TMU), are selected as two of the top 10 startup teams at Bridge to MassChallenge Taiwan (B2MC Taiwan) 2019.

AESOP Technology
AESOP Technology, a spin-off of TMU, was initiated by a team led by Professor Yu-Chuan Jack Li, the Dean of the College of Medical Science and Technology, TMU, along with experts including clinicians, clinical pharmacists, medical informaticists, and data scientists. Meanwhile, with the full support from TMU and Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH), AESOP Technology utilized artificial intelligence (AI) technologies including machine learning and medical big data to improve medication safety and put such application to clinical practices.
According to statistics, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2013. Globally, medication errors accounted for 20%, causing an annual cost of US$42 billion, and such high expenses could have been avoided.
Researchers at AESOP Technology see the difficulty in putting information technology into practice in hospitals. Due to the high complexity of clinical decision support (CDS), physicians prefer a rule-based reminder to make clinical decisions, which could sometimes lead to new problems in exceptional cases. By developing a probabilistic and unsupervised learning model using medical big data and reinforcement learning, AESOP Technology is able to simulate real-world physicians’ behavior in prescribing. Based on such data, computers fine-tune variables case by case, identify inappropriate prescriptions, and make suggestions for doctors accordingly. AESOP Technology has developed MedGuard, a system that has been applied to over 250,000 prescriptions per year by over 200 doctors. The acceptability rate of MedGuard is over 60%, and a retrospective analysis of the system shows a satisfaction rate over 85% from healthcare professionals.

An-Jim Long, CEO of AESOP Technology.

AESOP Technology’s short-term goal lies in continuously building its brand reputation and beginning to make revenue. It has begun preparations for clinical trials at hospitals in the United States, which proves the feasibility of MedGuard in different countries. The mid-term goal is to learn from leading hospitals within a short period of time to increase revenue, expand the knowledge base in healthcare, develop new products, conduct cross-industry cooperation, and bring together resources from different areas. For the long-term goal, AESOP Technology aims at using MedGuard as a stepping stone to enter different lines of business. Another goal is to provide various innovative services for patients, such as personalized medicine and preventive medicine. It is hoped that one day, AESOP Technology can become the first healthcare “unicorn” featuring AI technology in Taiwan.

MedGuard v.s. Rule-based Clinical Decision Support System

MTAMTech Corporation
MTAMTech Corporation is committed to developing personalized cancer treatment to avoid ineffective care. Based on the hollow fiber assay (HFA) developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States, MTAMTech incorporates such technology with a new component — microtube array membrane (MTAM) to develop the unique MTAM-HFA technique. With this technology, MTAMTech aims at developing personalized cancer treatment and screening solutions as well as commercial anti-cancer drugs, including immunotherapies such as anti-PD1/anti-PDL1
According to the Associate Professor Chien-Chung Chen from the College of Biomedical Engineering, TMU, who is also the founder of MTAMTech, current cancer treatments are not yet accurately personalized. Clinicians can only prescribe medication either based on a traditional biopsy with a pathological examination that determines the type and stage of cancer or by presumptions based on the doctor’s clinical experience. Any prescribing fault can compromise patient confidence in the healthcare system. Therefore, many hospitals combine patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models and next generation sequencing (NGS) to conduct preclinical trials, create genetic maps, and tailor personalized treatments.

MTAMTech receiving the award at B2MC

 Did you know?

Xenograft models used for drug screening features implanting cancer cell lines (liquid form) under the skin of a mouse with immunodeficiency. A drug test will be conducted once the cancer cells grow into a solid tumor (about 1 cubic centimeter). Generally, it takes a month or longer for cancer cells to grow into a solid tumor, and there have been cases where cancer cells do not grow at all.

When it comes to prescribing for cancer patients, MTAMTech takes samples of the tumor tissue from the target patient and encapsulates the sample in MTAM before implanting it under the skin of a mouse. After 10 to 14 days, researchers can find out what kind of drug is the most effective in inhibiting the intended cancer cells. Clinicians can refer to such test results for prescribing the correct personalized medications while minimizing side effects. The cost of this test is relatively low. Due to the unique design of MTAM, which facilitates storing tumor tissues, as long as experiments are conducted on the main mouse strains such as BALB/c, researchers are able to find out the most effective treatment in a personalized manner. The cost for experimenting on such mouse strains is only half of that on the immunodeficient mice used in xenograft models.
Scientifically proven to be more efficient than PDX, MTAM-screening at MTAMTech can be completed within 14 days and save up to 80% of the experiment cost, which brings unprecedented accuracy and translatability of the research outcome. More importantly, the MTAM-HFA technique allows researchers to screen a broad range of tumor types and classes of anti-cancer drugs including immunotherapy which has been attracting attention recently, bringing a beacon of hope to users and patients.

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