Nvidia helps bring Generative AI into healthcare, pharma

The renewed hype and ethical dilemmas circulating around Generative AI may have the effect of overshadowing all the good things that AI technology tools can do, particularly in sectors like pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Prior to Nvidia’s recent GTC conference, Kimberly Powell, vice president of healthcare at Nvidia, talked in an advance news brief about the expensive, multi-year cycle pharmaceutical companies go through to discover new drugs to help treat diseases.

“The pharmaceutical industry is approaching a $2 trillion industry, and yet we still have tens of thousands of diseases without cures,” she said. “Every year the pharma industry spends about $250 billion on R&D and another $500 billion on clinical trials, so there’s an urgency to apply AI and Generative AI to reduce what is today a 10 year cycle.”

During GTC, Nvidia looked to help streamline this cycle with the launch of its BioNeMo Cloud Service, which provides drug researchers with pre-trained AL models to help them create AI pipelines for drug development.

“Generative AI models can rapidly identify potential drug molecules — in some cases designing compounds or protein-based therapeutics from scratch,” according to an Nvida blog post. “Trained on large-scale datasets of small molecules, proteins, DNA and RNA sequences, these models can predict the 3D structure of a protein and how well a molecule will dock with a target protein.”

Amgen and other companies already are using the BioNeMo service, Powell said. 

“BioNeMo provides a single user interface that offers the state-of-the-art optimized models and model hosting so that drug discovery teams can very easily deploy and scale out Generative AI workloads,” she said, adding that companies also can train and finetune custom models with their own proprietary data so that they can leverage years of research and data they already have.

Elsewhere in healthcare, Nvidia is aligning with companies that are looking to leverage AI technology to improve medical devices and processes. During GTC, the company announced work it is doing with Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device technology company and an aggressive adopter of AI, to integrate edge AI capabilities into Medtronic’s GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module, which is developed and manufactured by Cosmo Pharmaceuticals.

GI Genius is the first FDA-cleared, AI-assisted colonoscopy tool to help physicians detect polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer. GI Genius has been designed to host a suite of AI algorithms and integrating the Nvidia Clara healthcare platform could allow Medtronic to scale development of algorithms for real-time procedures, potentially accelerating AI innovation for better patient care, Nvidia said.

Also, Nvidia Holoscan, a real-time AI computing software platform for building medical devices, and Nvidia IGX, an industrial-grade edge AI hardware platform, with run with GI Genius to provide doctors with AI-enhanced diagnostic images. Holoscan provides the full-stack infrastructure needed for scalable, software-defined processing of streaming data at the edge, Nvidia said. The combined solution will be available later this year, and is expected to help usher in an era of more software-defined medical devices and processes.

“Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that can increase the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of global health systems,” Powell said, vice president of healthcare at Nvidia. “We’re collaborating with Medtronic to accelerate AI innovation by enabling a software-defined business model, with the goal of improving clinical decision making, reducing medical variability and driving better patient outcomes.”