AI / Health

UMB-born startup launches pharmaceutical modeling platform Pumas 1.0

PUMAS-AI launched its first product, which aids in the development cycle of pharmaceutical drugs. It's available now to download for free for academic and noncommercial use.

The PUMAS-AI team. (Screenshot via YouTube)

A startup launched out by faculty at University of Maryland, Baltimore and MIT researchers collaborated to launch Pumas 1.0, a predictive analytics platform that aids in the development cycle of pharmaceutical drugs.

What that means is Pumas 1.0 takes the data a drug company has and simulates the success rate or possible outcome of a drug. Creating models and simulations through the algorithms in the code will allow researchers to manage risk in drug development.

What this could mean is new drug — for instance, a vaccine for COVID-19 — could go through simulations in this program and some of the issues with the treatment could be identified and fixed before it moves to a clinical testing phase.

Puma cofounders Dr. Joga Gobburu and Dr. Vijay Ivaturi,who are faculty members of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, would say themselves that modeling and simulations in drug testing aren’t new in the pharmaceutical space. The innovation their software brings is the capacity for machine learning and the open source nature of being created in one programming language.

“Scientists write software and they want it to be used,” said Dr. Alan Edelman, MIT professor and cofounder of Julia Computing about the open source nature of Pumas 1.0. He is a co-creator of the Julia programming language being used to create the company’s products.

“It’s no longer enough to build an application the old school way and just remain static,” said Edelman. “Now you have to move along and build on top of the world’s greatest scientists and be carried upward by them.”

Along with the software that launched this week, PUMAS-AI also wants to work with hospitals by using patients health and current medical data to create personalized patient care with its program Lyv, which was licensed from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Predictive analytics isn’t a new concept. It’s used in your phone with T9, it’s used through the ads you see on the internet after you visit certain sites or shop online. What Pumas is doing is tailoring it for medical treatment.

Pumas 1.0 will be free for all academic and noncommercial uses. It’s available now at their website.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

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