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ARM Innovation Hub
21 October, 2021 - 22:20 By Tony Quested

Cerevance seeks key to unlock brain disease treasure trove

A Cambridge therapeutics specialist is seeking an analytics partner to unlock a rich seam ofdata that could lead to possible treatments for a variety of brain diseases, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, with its lead program in Parkinson’s disease.

Cerevance at Cambridge Science Park is on the cusp of discovering potential treatment options. Since inception, the company has collected more than 250 billion transcripts of data as part of research into degenerative brain diseases.

A comparative study shows that after years of research, a collection of labs was only able to collect 125 million transcripts. The volume of data that Cerevance has at its fingertips is astounding if they can find the key to unlock this tech treasure trove. 

With countless data startups harnessing AI to process and discover patterns in vast sets of information, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Cerevance, Brad Margus, believes in the untapped potential that data science can help his company bring to the research table. 

By finding an analytics partner, Margus hopes to begin processing and understanding the data his team have collected, which may very well hold answers to some of the biggest medical puzzles that have stumped researchers for years.

Margus got his start in the healthcare industry in the mid-1990s, when two of his sons were diagnosed with a rare, neurodegenerative disease called ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T),  that attacks children, causing progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems and a high rate of cancer.

After devoting tremendous time and energy to learning more about his sons’ condition, including starting a charity – AT Children’s Project – to pursue a treatment, Margus continued his path in the healthcare space, founding Cerevance in 2016 as his third life science company.

The CEO says that Cerevance’s entire pipeline of treatments leverages a powerful approach that enables scientists to measure the precise levels at which thousands of genes are expressed in any cell type – something previously considered impossible. 

With this knowledge, drug developers no longer need to seek targets in animal models that may not translate when tested in humans, but rather can gain an enormous head start in creating new treatments that lock in on targets identified in brain tissue samples from human donors.

Despite the onset of COVID-19 last year, Margus managed to push Cerevance forward to raise $65 million in funding from marquee investors such as Google Ventures and a personal investment from Bill Gates, along with other contributors in the life science space. 

Margus and his team are looking forward to applying this funding to advance multiple treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases. The experienced Cambridge element of the team is led by chief scientific officer Mark Carlton, who is based at Cerevance’s Cambridge site and heads up the R & D facility there. The company’s US site is in Boston.

• You can check out the company and its technology at cerevance.com

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