Massachusetts-based drug developer BERG Health has begun a human trial investigating its artificial intelligence-engineered brain cancer drug. 

The phase 1/2 trial will study the safety, tolerability and mechanism of action of BPM 31510-IV as a monotherapy in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – a notoriously hard-to-treat type of brain tumour.

GBM is the most common and deadliest form of malignant primary brain tumour in adults, accounting for 45% of all brain cancers and almost 11,000 men, women, and children diagnosed each year. Five-year survival for GBM is around 5%.

BERG will test the drug in those patients that have already been treated with an Avastin (bevacizumab) based regimen whose disease has recurred.

“Glioblastoma is one of the deadliest and most insidious forms of cancer and we are working to make a much-needed difference in the lives of patients with glioblastoma to improve survival, and quality of life,” said Niven Narain, BERG co-founder, president and CEO of BERG.

BPM 31510-IV was created using BERG’s own Interrogative Biology AI platform. The technology analyses vast amounts of data produced by thousands of in vitro (cell line) and animal experiments and structures them into a list of potential disease biomarkers and therapeutic targets. BERG researchers then investigate the list of targets in the lab, identifying those that can be targeted and developing medicines aimed at them.

The drug has already proven to be safe in patients in a phase 1 trial as well as producing a beneficial effect in pre-clinical models when combined with current GBM standard of care treatment, temozolomide.

Outside of GBM, BERG is also investigating a candidate as part of a combination therapy with gemcitabine in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, as well as for other conditions including alopecia, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also developing diagnostic assays for both prostate cancer and heart failure.