Ann Arbor tech startup launches cancer diagnosis tool cataloging 3.3 million medical articles

Ann Arbor health-tech startup Genomenon has launched a new, first-of-its-kind software to help medical professionals and geneticists research millions of medical publications more quickly for faster diagnoses.

Launched last week, Genomenon CEO Mike Klein says Mastermind automates searching and sorting through articles on genetic variants, so pathologists and research laboratories can focus on understanding the results of DNA testing.

"Once they get the DNA test back and are doing all the analysis, we help them interpret those results to determine whether the gene mutations found in that section are pathogenic, or disease causing; or benign, or not disease causing," Klein says.

Mastermind's database includes full-text readings and analysis of 3.3 million articles, according to Klein, and is on track for 6.5 million by summer.

"We're machine reading every article," Klein says. "The real trick is going out and finding those articles and getting access to those full text articles, and we have some academic partnerships we've leveraged to get those."

Cancer-related literature was the focus for the launch. That's now expanding to include heart disease and infertility.

The launch comes after three years of development and fundraising, as well as support from local organizations. Genomenon spun out of the University of Michigan (U-M) and was incubated at the U-M Tech Transfer Venture Accelerator. It's also received funding from Ann Arbor SPARK and scored a big win at the Accelerate Michigan Competition in 2015.

Genomenon was cofounded by Dr. Mark Kiel, who was then working at U-M as a molecular pathologist.

"What he found is, every time he had gotten all the mutations from patients, he was spending 80 percent of his day doing searches, searching for the literature to figure out whether the mutations were pathogenic or not," Klein says. "A guy with a Ph.D. M.D. is spending all his time doing Google searches and PubMed searches. It didn't seem like a really good use of his time."

So Kiel left U-M to focus on automating that search. Several developers told him his vision was impossible before Kiel met cofounder Steve Schwartz, who helped him bring it to life and now works as Genomenon's chief technology officer.

Mastermind is now available to license for genetic reference labs, and Klein says terms are being negotiated with two companies that just finished piloting the software. One reported that Mastermind helped it cut eight weeks' worth of work down to two days.

Klein says Genomenon's combination of clinical perspective and exhaustive research make it unique in the field, with the closest comparison being a more generic offering like Google Scholar.

"We have no direct competitors," Klein says. "There's nobody who's been able to accomplish what we've been able to accomplish in the last three years."
 
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
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