Opyl Announces AI Powered COVID-19 Clinical Trial Forecaster

asx news Sep 03, 2020

Published by Anthony Di Pizio

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The News

Melbourne, Australia based Opyl (ASX:OPL) today announced that its Artificial Intelligence (AI) software can make ''probability of success'' predictions on the likelihood of a vaccine or therapy succeeding in clinical trials. They have focused this announcement on COVID-19 but says the software may be used for any clinical trial.

The company claims to have run software tests investigating the 475 registered COVID-19 clinical trials currently underway and:

  1. Has identified the two vaccine candidates most likely to succeed
  2. Determined that at least one antibody therapy has the best probability of success in Phase III trials
  3. Therapies show a much higher chance of success than vaccines in trials, even though vaccines typically pass trials at a higher rate (33.4% vs 13.8% of all drugs). 

They do not disclose what the two promising vaccine candidates are, and without further information investors are forced to simply go off the company's word as to whether the results are as advertised. This is perhaps the reason for the additional trading halt imposed by the ASX today. 

The Company's Goal (How This Works)

In August of this year, the company released its R&D portfolio and one of the priority items was a ''Clinical Trial Predictor Tool''. The goal of this tool is to utilize their AI technology to examine previous clinical trial designs and identify sources of failure, and help companies optimize their recruitment and enrollment processes.

The company claims that by changing certain variables within a trial, the probability of success increases, as per Opyl CEO Michelle Gallaher:

“Our approach is to use AI to not just predict the outcome, but to demonstrate that changing specific clinical trials variables can improve the probability of success,” Gallaher said.

“Our goal is to improve the efficiency, improve the application of research funding and ultimately the return on investment for scientists, clinicians, health technology developers and investors.”

Given the amount of time and money spent on clinical trials, optimization in this way could represent significant cost savings for the companies running them. 

Opyl is small (sub AU$10 million market cap) but boasts a comprehensive list of clients:

The company's core business is attempting to capture some of the US$3.62 billion in yearly digital marketing spend (2019) by pharmaceutical and biotech companies. To do this they offer six key services:

  1. Deep social media insights
  2. Digital marketing communication strategy and management
  3. Search optimisation and digital advertising
  4. Clinical trial recruitment and retention campaigns
  5. Content creation for social media
  6. Social media skills training in healthcare

Trading Halt

The ASX queried today's COVID-19 related announcement and OPL is now in a trading halt pending further clarification.

We expect the company will be required to offer more colour on their AI powered predictor tool, as they were a little light on specific details.

You can view the original announcement here.

Shares were up 76% prior to the halt. 

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