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    Unleashing AI-Powered Treatments for Rare Diseases


    think-In recap: Key Insights from a Trailblazing Co-founder and CEO


    In this inspiring first Think-In webinar, we were taken on a fascinating journey by Dr Tim Guilliams, the PhD-turned-founder and CEO of Healx, a company at the cutting edge of using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop treatments for rare diseases. Healx has already raised over $100M to pursue its endeavour and is on track to make a huge impact on society. This session highlighted the innovative approaches being championed by Healx and how the blend of technology and human resilience is confronting the most challenging medical frontiers.


    A Mission-Driven Endeavour

    It was whilst he was finishing his PhD in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, and via an introduction from Andy Richards (a serial Cambridge entrepreneur), he met Nick Sireau – a parent whose two children were diagnosed with the ultra-rare disease called black bone disease. He was moved to action when he heard Nick’s story about his child’s rare disease and the lack of treatment for it.

    It propelled him on a singular mission to treat rare diseases. Inspired by the unwavering focus and resilience of the parents confronting these diseases, this has become the north star guiding every stride the company makes.


    The Serendipity of Cambridge’s Ecosystem

    Another captivating element of Tim’s story was the crucial role played by the dynamic ecosystem of Cambridge. It is here where he met a seasoned ex-pharma professional who would become Tim’s co-founder – David Brown (known as co-inventor on the patent for Viagra). This serendipitous convergence of passion, expertise, and vision underscores the irreplaceable value of community and collaboration in spearheading groundbreaking ventures.


    A Paradigm Shift in Drug Discovery

    Healx is pioneering a revolutionary shift in therapeutics, veering away from traditional target-based drug discovery towards an AI-driven approach. By leveraging AI to mine and analyse vast datasets, the company is identifying novel therapeutic avenues in a ‘target-agnostic’ way. This innovative strategy marks a departure from the conventional target-based ‘me too’ approach dominant in big pharma, paving the way for multiple AI-driven drugs now advancing to clinical trials.


    The Evolving Role of AI

    Discussing AI’s broader implications, Tim shed light on the critical roles of Large Language Models (LLMs) and specialised AI agents. In today’s geopolitical climate, with growing concerns over security, the move towards in-house development of open-source AI models is becoming imperative for enhancing productivity while safeguarding innovations.


    Lessons from Resilience and Passion

    Tim’s reflections on his experiences working closely with patients and their families were particularly moving. Transforming a life-altering diagnosis into a catalyst for change, these individuals exemplify unparalleled resilience and passion. Their stories serve not only as a beacon of hope but also as a critical reminder of the ‘why’ behind the work – innovating not for technology’s sake, but to significantly improve, and indeed, save lives.


    Trailblazing in TechBio

    Tim’s discourse reinforced Healx’s pioneering role in the TechBio space. By navigating uncharted territories with a clear vision and unwavering dedication, Healx exemplifies how ambitious, authoritative, and forward-thinking Cambridge ventures can recruit investment from outside the sector to spearhead unprecedented advances in healthcare.

    This webinar was not just an exhibition of Healx’s achievements but a great example to the global community of the role of Cambridge. The University and ecosystem bring together great minds across many disciplines, in this case enabling the potent synergy between AI and human perseverance, offering new vistas of hope for patients with rare diseases. Next generation start-ups like Healx are not merely operating within the realm of innovation – they are redefining it, promising a new era of healthcare that is more inclusive, effective, and deeply rooted in the ethos of community and compassion.


    About Think-In Series

    The Think-Ins are live streamed talks by world leading experts from the University of Cambridge including business leaders, Professors and CEOs of leading University across technology, sciences, and humanities on their latest developments – and an opportunity for you to ask the guest speaker questions and have a discussion. Looking forward to seeing you soon at our next Think-In in September!