Invitae Corporation (NYSE: NVTA), a leading medical genetics company, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Jungla Inc., a privately held company funded by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) that has developed a cloud-based platform that combines clinical knowledge with advances in functional genomics, biophysics, cellular engineering, machine learning, and distributed systems to help clinicians and patients understand the results of genetic and genomic tests. The combination is expected to further enhance Invitae’s genetic variant interpretation and ability to deliver high-quality, more affordable genetic testing for use in mainstream medical care. Separately, Invitae announced the addition of RNA analysis to its commercial testing, beginning with patients undergoing cancer testing.
“Interpreting the genetic variants observed during sequencing is what turns genetic data into decision-making power for patients and clinicians. Bringing Jungla’s technologies onto our platform will help us provide support to our patients in a scalable way,” said Sean George, co-founder and chief executive officer of Invitae. “Whether incorporating computational and experimental approaches for protein analysis or adding RNA analysis to augment variant interpretation, we lead the molecular genetic testing industry in leveraging advanced clinical genetic variant interpretation technologies that enable us to provide patients and clinicians with genetic information to inform healthcare decisions.”
Large-Scale Molecular and Genomic Technologies to Enhance Variant Interpretation
Jungla’s Functional Modeling Platform (FMP) is an active machine learning engine that enhances clinical knowledge by continuously integrating functional, structural and computational data into auditable and accurate predictive models for clinical variant interpretation. The technology delivers performance that exceeds recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) and the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) across hundreds of genes and conditions.
Jungla’s technology can augment Invitae’s ability to understand the impact of variants on molecular function, be they protein or RNA molecules, through the application of advanced methods in functional genomics, structural biology and biophysics. This technology, coupled with Invitae’s exacting, logical and reproducible approach for variant classification and interpretation, Sherloc, can help Invitae deliver more informative results to patients.
In November 2018, Invitae and Jungla successfully completed a four-month pilot study of the performance of Jungla’s proprietary technologies in predicting the clinical relevance of differences in human DNA sequence (variants) found in individuals undergoing testing for hereditary disease. The results demonstrated that support from Jungla’s FMP can markedly increase the molecular understanding of variants while maintaining the high accuracy of Invitae’s classifications, thereby significantly increasing the efficiency of interpretation and scalability of genetic testing with enhanced quality of test results. In addition, the prospective integration of Invitae’s knowledge-base and Jungla’s technologies is expected to optimize clinical guidance, leveraging the data from each patient to improve results for the next. The results show that Jungla’s technologies can clarify the interpretation of variants, moving them from the uncertain category to pathogenic or benign status.
“At Jungla, we are continuously applying and combining advances in molecular, cellular, and computational technologies to the complex work of genetic variant interpretation with the goal of making it easier to conduct the highest quality genetic interpretation at scale,” said Carlos Araya, co-founder and chief executive officer of Jungla. “Our team has been at the forefront of technologies to accelerate the understanding of variants for nearly a decade. Combining our learning engine with Invitae’s rigorous interpretation framework will extend the reach of our technology and help more patients and clinicians get the information they need.”
Under the definitive agreement, Invitae will acquire Jungla for approximately $50 million upon closing, $35 million of which shall be in Invitae common stock and $15 million of which shall be in cash, subject to certain adjustments. In addition, Invitae will pay up to $15 million upon the achievement of certain milestones, mostly in stock with the balance in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the coming days, subject to customary closing conditions. Invitae has already factored in the additional operating expense of this acquisition in prior statements about expected 2019 cash burn.
Supplemental RNA Analysis Further Deepens Variant Classification in Cancer Testing
While most gene changes associated with a hereditary disease have their effect by directly altering the function of the protein that is specified by that gene, a small fraction of gene changes are known to alter the way messenger RNAs (mRNAs), the blueprints for proteins, are made in the body. A growing area of research has focused on using RNA analysis to help resolve variants of uncertain significance (VUS), particularly those VUS that are predicted to affect mRNA creation, also known as RNA splicing. In order to contribute to this research and further reduce the uncertainty inherent in genetic testing results, Invitae has added supplemental RNA testing for VUS that are predicted to affect RNA splicing and have been identified in a gene from any of our hereditary cancer panels.
Invitae’s approach to supplemental RNA analysis, RNA-seq, includes both qualitative (evaluation of abnormal mRNAs) and quantitative (the amount of mRNAs) results, which ultimately provides deeper insight into the variant-disease relationship compared to the use of qualitative results alone.
“The addition of RNA analysis to our variant classification pipeline provides another tool to reduce the number of variants that cannot be confidently classified based on DNA sequencing alone,” said Robert Nussbaum, chief medical officer of Invitae. “By applying this technology first to those cancer genes and variants where it is most immediately useful, we can provide deeper, more complete genetic information for patients and clinicians making critical clinical decisions.”
RNA analysis is now in use as a component of Invitae’s VUS resolution program as applied to Invitae’s hereditary cancer syndrome gene testing, with broader application in other disease areas planned for later this year.
SOURCE Invitae Corporation
Siri Co-Founder Tom Gruber Joins Sherpa.ai as Strategic Advisor
Sherpa.ai, one of the leading companies in predictive Digital Assistants and Artificial Intelligence, has announced today that Tom Gruber, co-founder and CTO of Siri, is joining the company as Strategic Advisor. Gruber will work with the Sherpa.ai team as they develop new AI-based features. As part of the agreement, Sherpa.ai is the only Digital Assistant company that he is advising.
Gruber’s incorporation implies a significant milestone for the Basque company, as he is considered to be one of the top experts in Artificial Intelligence and digital assistants, worldwide.
“The arrival of Tom Gruber to our company makes it clear that we are at the global forefront, in terms of Artificial Intelligence and digital assistants,” said Xabi Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO of Sherpa.ai. “Sherpa’s mission is to augment and accelerate human potential through the application of personal AI and Tom’s experience and outlook are perfectly aligned with that mission.”
“I visited the company headquarters in Bilbao and I was impressed with their Artificial Intelligence technology. Among the Digital Assistant companies that I have seen, I am most excited by the Sherpa.ai product and team, that’s why I decided to join them,” added Tom Gruber.
Tom Gruber is a researcher, designer, and entrepreneur, with a focus on technology to augment human intelligence and well being. He was the co-founder and CTO of the team that created Siri, which was acquired by Apple in 2010. At Apple for over 8 years, Tom led the Advanced Development Group that designed and prototyped new capabilities for Siri and related products that bring intelligence to the interface.
Throughout his career, Gruber has applied Artificial Intelligence technology to support individual and collective human knowledge. He founded companies to support human collaboration and knowledge sharing, and his research at Stanford University laid the groundwork for the exchange of semantic information sharing and the Semantic Web.
Gruber will advise Sherpa.ai in the development the next of generation of digital assistant features, such as predictive and proactive personalization.
Sherpa.ai offers a white-label digital assistant, in relationships with major automobile manufacturers and telcos. It recently closed a $15 million round of financing to accelerate its growth.
Recently, Sherpa.ai launched important new products, like the Sherpa.ai Conversational OS platform, which allows the digital assistant technology to be integrated into any device, and the Sherpa.ai Predictive and Recommending Engine,through which companies can equip any product with predictive technology.
Additionally, in April, the company presented Sherpa News, a free news application based on Artificial Intelligence, available for Android and iOS, which completes the catalog of mobile applications, alongside Sherpa Assistant, the digital assistant that has been downloaded millions of times since its launch.
Xpeng G3 achieves highest score among EVs in China’s latest C-NCAP safety test
The Xpeng G3 2019 version obtained the highest total score of 92.2% among electric vehicles in the latest China New Car Assessment Program (C-NCAP) safety test, according to official results announced on 13 July.
The G3 smart EV SUV achieved a 5-star standard safety rating, and was among the first batch of new energy vehicles received 5-star rating by C-NCAP after it released new rules in line with international standards. C-NCAP released the new version of its regulations in 2018, adding safety evaluation standards for pure electric vehicles, and performance evaluations for active safety functions.
According to the official C-NCAP results, the G3 received 96.50% in passenger safety and 94.09% in active safety, both the highest rankings among electric vehicles in this latest safety evaluation by the Chinese authority.
In C-NCAP’s most stringent 64-kilometer offset collision, the G3 received the highest score of 19.758 among all types of vehicles. In addition, the G3’s active safety system has gone through over 3,000 hours of data acquisition. The road test for its automatic emergency braking function recorded zero malfunctions in every 150,000 km.
“The C-NCAP results are a strong endorsement of Xpeng’s in-house R&D, safety design and quality control capability,” said Xpeng Motors Chairman & CEO He Xiaopeng. “The new C-NCAP regulations are the most stringent yet for EVs, but the G3 has matched or exceeded these standards, rating it the safest electric vehicle in the China market.”
The G3’s comprehensive active and passive safety features are supported by its strong body architecture, with 70% of the vehicle body made of high-strength steel (including 6.7% ultra-high strength steel and 1500MPa 7.5% thermoformed steel), creating a rigid safety cage to withstand collisions from different directions. This architecture can quickly disperse collision forces through various nodes, effectively reducing locally concentrated force to help prevent the vehicle body crumpling in a collision.
During the R&D phase, Xpeng conducted five rounds of safety tests on the G3, including 63 vehicle collisions and 40 sliding tests to cover a full range of collision scenarios. The G3 also went through more than 1,000 structural optimization simulations in the R&D phase, taking more than 30,000 hours. Additionally, the G3 has the following active safety systems:
- Forward collision warning (FCW)
- Automatic emergency brake (AEB) with pedestrian protection
- Lane departure warning (LDW)
- Intelligent speed limit assist (SLA)
- Blind spot detection (BSD)
- Lane change alert (LCA)
- Rear cross traffic alert (RCTA)
- MSB electric seatbelt (with collision warning）
SOURCE XPENG Motors
TVS Motor Singapore to Invest US$7 Million in Scienaptic Systems, an AI Powered Decision Platform
TVS Motor (Singapore) Pte. Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TVS Motor Company Limited, India, has signed definitive agreements to invest US$7 million in Scienaptic Systems Inc., a Delaware corporation, headquartered in New York City. TVS Motor (Singapore) Pte. Limited led this Series A funding in Scienaptic. The closing of the investment is subject to obtaining appropriate regulatory approvals.
Scienaptic has combined latest big data technologies and proprietary machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms on its decision platform, “Ether.” Solutions built on Ether enable enterprises to improve risk and credit assessment, monitor evolving fraud patterns, and improve customer journeys and experience. Scienaptic counts several marquee Fortune 100 enterprises as its clients.
Rajesh Narasimhan, Board Member of TVS Motor Company and CEO of TVS Motor (Singapore), stated that, “We evaluated many companies providing big data analytics and risk management solutions and found Scienaptic’s product offerings and solutions with their ability to help organizations leverage actionable insights through the power of a strong analytics platform to be a clear differentiator and a unique proposition. Scienaptic’s end-to-end data analytics solution, with applicability to customers in various industries, has the potential to generate a new profit stream for our group. We are happy to invest in, and strategically partner with, Scienaptic as they continue to pursue bottom-line impact for Fortune 100 companies, and to leverage Scienaptic for our businesses. Our current investment in Scienaptic is part of the initial set of investments being made in strategically relevant digital startups.”
Pankaj Kulshreshtha, Founder & CEO of Scienaptic added, “We are witnessing the adoption of our AI platform at Fortune 100 companies. With the cutting edge instruments on our platform, companies are able to drive adoption of AI in their processes. The investment by TVS enables us to accelerate our sales and product development. We found a significant match in value systems between the two organizations and believe that our collective strengths will enable Scienaptic to grow exponentially and become a global leader in AI-powered decisioning space.”
SOURCE TVS Motor
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